Earning the seal could open the door for college scholarships, internships, and jobs that require proficiency in a second language, educators say.
The district risked losing up to $15 million in state funding over courses that former Arizona public schools Superintendent John Huppenthal said violated a 2010 state ban on ethnic studies. His successor, Diane Douglas, has overruled him, leaving the funding intact.
Investigations conducted as far back as 1997 called for more accountability and reliable national data to better assess the condition of Bureau of Indian Education facilities.
Milady Baez's move to a cabinet post may be the latest indication that improving education for the district's fastest-growing student population is a top priority for Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
State Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi wanted relief from "double testing" that would allow students taking the field test to forego the English-only Smarter Balanced statewide assessment.
Investigations found evidence that several districts refused to enroll undocumented youths and unaccompanied minors if they were unable to produce documents demonstrating guardianship or residency in the state.
The White House saw the programs, which could shield as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, as tools to ease concerns about separating school-aged children from their families.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell acknowledges that "we're at a time in our nation's history where we have awakened to the fact that we are not doing an effective job serving Native youth."
The students, many of them undocumented immigrants from Central America, have to juggle court dates and concerns about deportation while trying to adjust to schools in a new country.
In its first report, the group's founder argues that "DLLs have long been ignored in education policy debates."