Gov. Ducey overturns firing of Arizona Education Board execs

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas By Mike Gertzman Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas By Mike Gertzman
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PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday overturned the firing of two top officials at the Arizona Board of Education by the state's schools chief in a quick rebuke to another elected official


Press Release from Arizona Department of Education: Arizona Superintendent of Public Schools Diane Douglas Did Not See Doug Ducey’s Name on the Ballot for State Superintendent

Fact sheet from the Arizona Department of Education: The Constitution and statutes which give the Superintendent the authority to direct and fire employees of the Board of Education


Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas had no legal right to fire board executive director Christine Thompson and deputy director Sabrina Vazquez, Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said.

Douglas had her chief of staff fire the two on Wednesday.

Board of Education President Greg Miller objected to the firings, saying Thompson and Vazquez work for the board and not Douglas. In an interview Wednesday, he called Douglas' actions "totally uncalled for, unprovoked and not at the will of the board."

Miller is a strong supporter of the state's new Common Core standards and its new assessment test, adopted by the board late last year. Douglas campaigned on her opposition to those standards and has criticized the process where the board chose the test.

The 11-member board is a constitutional office that oversees school policy in the state and operates independently of the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction. Douglas is a board member by nature of her elected office, but the other members are appointed by the governor to four-year terms.

Sally Stewart, a spokeswoman for Douglas, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

"There have been no personnel changes at the state Board of Education because the state Board of Education has not moved to dismiss anyone," Scarpinato said.

Scarpinato said the governor's lawyers cited "statutory language, legal precedent and concerns over the constitutional separation of powers" in overturning the firings.

The governor's office cited a 1985 legal opinion by then-Attorney General Bob Corbin that the board has the ability to hire and supervise its own staff and likewise can't oversee the superintendent of public instruction's staff

Miller said Thursday that he was pleased Ducey acted but referred further questions to the governor's office.

"Basically, my position on this whole thing is it is an issue between the superintendent's office and the governor," Miller said.


Schools chief fires Arizona Board of Education executives