Friends, foes call for top Arizona educator to resign

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal apologized Wednesday for his controversial blog comments, but both longtime critics and supporters are calling for his resignation.

"The comments don't reflect the love in my heart or the mission I'm on," Huppenthal told reporters.

Huppenthal admits to calling families on welfare "lazy pigs," and calling for a ban on Spanish-language media in Arizona.

Shortly after his press conference, a group of education and business leaders gathered to ask Huppenthal to resign.

"Huppenthal should be expelled," said Lawrence Robinson, a member of the Roosevelt School District Board. "We passed an anti-bullying initiative in Roosevelt, and he wouldn't pass the muster of that initiative," Robinson added.

"This is blatant and horrific," Lisa Graham Keegan said of the blog posts. Keegan is a former Superintendent of Public Instruction, and a longtime Huppenthal supporter and colleague.

"It's hard. A lot of people are reeling from this. It's not the behavior of the man we've known for 20 years," she said.

Business leaders joined the educators, saying Huppenthal has damaged Arizona's image.

"Words do hurt, and they have a lasting effect," said Michael Kelly, a longtime civil rights activist, business owner, and member of Arizona Community Foundation.

Huppenthal teared up at his press conference and walked out, unable to answer a question about the effect the scandal has had on his staff.

"I think the pressure is building, and the tears are a response to that pressure," Lisa Urias, of the Hispanic Chamber, said following Huppenthal's apology.

Huppenthal vowed to stay in office, and on the upcoming ballot.