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Douglas fires top staff at Arizona Board of Education

Jennifer Reynolds 2-11-15

This on makes me smile this evening. I've personally testified against Christine Thompson, the executive director of the State Board of Education, on previous bills and she has been a long supporter of Common Core. Write Diane Douglas a line and thank her for this latest action:

For our children,

-Jennifer Reynolds


The state's schools chief abruptly fired the top two administrators for the Arizona State Board of Education Wednesday, with some education leaders questioning whether the firings were politically motivated or legal.

Diane Douglas, the superintendent of public instruction, dismissed Christine Thompson, the executive director, and Sabrina Vazquez, assistant executive director. Douglas did not give a reason and declined to comment.

Rebecca Gau, executive director of Stand for Children Arizona, an education advocacy group, said she was "incredibly disappointed."

"It's pretty clearly a political move," Gau said.

Gau said she believes Douglas has been unhappy that the board staff has continued to work on rolling out AzMERIT, the state's new standardized test.

Douglas, elected in November, has called the new test "unproven" and "hastily chosen."

The new test is expected to be taken by about 1 million third- through 11th-graders. It is expected to measure concepts being taught under the new Arizona College and Career Standards.

Although this year's test results will not impact school letter grades or whether students can graduate, Douglas and some educators believe that Arizona is moving too fast with the new assessment.

Asked if the firings were political, Gov. Doug Ducey's spokesman Daniel Scarpinato told The Arizona Republic, "We're reviewing it to see."

Whether the firings are legal also was not clear late Wednesday.

Board president Greg Miller confirmed the firings, saying he was "terribly surprised" the education department would be involved in terminating school board staff. Thompson and Vazquez were hired by the board and worked exclusively on board matters, Miller said.

Arizona law states the schools chief may "direct the work of all employees of the board who shall be employees of the department of education" and "direct the performance of executive, administrative or ministerial functions by the department of education or divisions or employees thereof."

The law does not specifically state that the superintendent can hire or fire board staff.

Miller said he has always viewed the education board as separate from the education department. The staffs share a downtown Phoenix headquarters but work separately.

Miller said he is seeking a legal opinion on whether Douglas actually has the power to dismiss Thompson and Vazquez.

Asked if he was aware of any reasons why Thompson or Vazquez should have been be fired, Miller said "absolutely none."

Scarpinato, said Ducey was not involved in the firings and the spokesman declined to say whether the governor supports the dismissals.

Views: 152

Comment by Laura Niles on February 12, 2015 at 7:00am

Fantastic!  Way to go Diane Douglas. You are an exception to the political forces that say one thing and do another. Stand strong and hold on. I'm on your side.

Comment by karen gevaert on February 12, 2015 at 8:00am

I hope this is all legal, don't want to lose Diane, she is our only "HOPE."

Comment by Harry Mathews on February 12, 2015 at 6:10pm

Yes, a refreshing change from the status quo bound to bring the wrath of the Edu-Cartel. No matter. We may have our own Scott Walker in DD

Comment by karen gevaert on February 14, 2015 at 8:30am

If Diane needs to hire an attorney, and  I know they are not "cheap"  could we set-up a donation fund to help her. Would like anyone's thoughts on this.


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