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Diane Douglas, education board reach deal to settle lawsuits, power struggle

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PHOENIX — Superintendent Diane Douglas and the Arizona School Board have reached a deal to settle ongoing lawsuits that essentially equate to a power struggle.

Department of Education spokesman Charles Tack said the agreement — which has the backing of legislative leaders and Gov. Doug Ducey’s office — will eliminate the need for any further courtroom drama between the two entities.

“Both parties remain committed to doing what is best for Arizona students and are calling on all legislators to support the legislation,” Tack wrote in a release.

The agreement has been attached as an amendment to House Bill 2620.

If approved by legislators, the board of education will be responsible for the hiring and oversight of its four employees, while the Department of Education will be in charge of all educational misconduct investigators.

The state board and Douglas have been at odds practically since she took office in 2014. Barely a month after she took office, Douglas fired two board administrators, tipping off the feud.

Gov. Doug Ducey quickly reversed the terminations.

At issue was Douglas’ claim that she had the right to hire and fire board staff.

Both Douglas and the board filed lawsuits against one another.

Amid the argument, the state Senate passed a bill to curtail Douglas’ power.

Tack said the agreement would bring an end to litigation and turn everyone’s focus back to the students.

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