Board of Ed execs back at work; no sign of Douglas

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Two executives of the Arizona Board of Education returned to work Tuesday, nearly a week after the state schools superintendent tried to fire them.

Executive Director Christine Thompson and Deputy Director Sabrina Vazquez walked into the Board of Education offices just after 8:30 a.m.

An attorney representing the board said the two returned to their offices without any issues.

Superintendent Diane Douglas was given until 8:30 a.m. Tuesday by the board to reinstate Thompson and Vazquez after she tried to fire last week.

Douglas was not seen by reporters at the offices.

The state board ordered Douglas to restore office, email and other access to the two executives by the Tuesday morning deadline.

Douglas argued that state law grants her the right to hire and fire board staff while the board and Arizona Go. Doug Ducey said Douglas didn't have the authority to fire the executives and overruled her decision.

Douglas was the only board member at a Friday meeting of the board to vote against the order to reinstate Thompson and Vazquez. She said she might have trouble meeting its deadline because of Monday's state holiday.

"I believe that I am within my rights, in the actions I took, but apparently the governor feels differently," Douglas said. "We will resolve those issues to make sure it's very clear in the future so none of these issues arise again."

The two staffers continued to work from home even though Douglas on Friday said she had re-assigned their duties.

Ducey overturned Douglas' firings on Thursday. That prompted a scathing response from Douglas, who accused him of favoring charter schools over traditional public schools and cutting money from education to benefit businesses.

Ducey and the board said Thompson and Vazquez work for the board and not the state Department of Education, which Douglas leads.