Education board to meet after schools chief fired 2 members

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas By Mike Gertzman Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting Friday apparently prompted by the firings of the board's executive director and another member by the state schools chief.

Gov. Doug Ducey rescinded the firings Thursday, prompting a blistering response from Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas.

The meeting agenda shows members will meet to get legal advice and consider ordering Douglas to provide office and email access to board employees.

Ducey said Douglas had no legal right to fire board Executive Director Christine Thompson and Deputy Director Sabrina Vazquez on Wednesday. Douglas responded by saying Ducey overstepped his bounds and she has the constitutional authority to take the action.

The governor's lawyers cited state law, legal precedent and concerns over the constitutional separation of powers in overturning the firings, spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said.

Board of Education President Greg Miller had objected to the firings, saying Thompson and Vazquez work for the board and not Douglas.

The 11-member board oversees state school policy and operates independently of the elected superintendent of public instruction. However, Douglas is a board member because of her post and will be able to participate in the meeting.

Douglas said in a lengthy statement Thursday that she was not surprised that Ducey supports "retaining two liberal staff who have publicly stated they will block all efforts to repeal or change Common Core and backs the newly elected President of the Board of Education who is a charter school operator and stands to profit from the Governor's policy of pushing through AzMerit to lower school scores so that more students can be removed to charter schools."

Miller, the board president, is a strong supporter of the state's new Common Core standards and a new statewide assessment test, adopted by the board late last year. He operates a charter school in Glendale.

Douglas campaigned on her opposition to those standards and has criticized the process in which the board chose the test.

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