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Diane Douglas and Board of Education argue over vacant positions

PHOENIX — There is another power struggle brewing between the state’s Board of Education and Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas.

This time the battle is over who has the legal right to fill two vacant board employee positions.

Board President Greg Miller recently established a hiring committee to screen candidates for the open positions. Superintendent Douglas was asked to serve on that committee but declined the offer calling it a waste of time and resources. She also said it would be illegal for that committee to hire and employee.

“The board only has the right to hire positions and people based on the recommendations of the superintendent,” Douglas said.

In a press release, Douglas indicated two of her top choices for the open positions. They are Aiden Fleming, a Deputy Associate Superintendent at the Department of education and Nickie Kelley, an aide to Phoenix City Council member Sal DiCiccio.

Emails obtained by KTAR News found that Douglas has threatened legal action against the Board if they hire an employee she does not recommend.

The email states:

“I recognize that, unfortunately, the Board is not likely to follow the clear letter of the law on the issue and seems intent on moving forward with trying to hire employees without my offices involvement or my recommendation. This is a waste of time and resources. I will be forced to defend the powers of my office and bring another lawsuit.”

Douglas however suggested during an interview with KTAR that she is still unsure how she will proceed if the board does not follow her recommendations.

“If and when that happens and I hope that it won’t, I hope we can work collaboratively but I will cross that bridge when we come to it,” she said.

In another email, Board President Miller indicated the committee will move forward in the hiring process but is willing to consider the recommendations put forth by Douglas.

“As individual members of the Board, neither the Superintendent nor the Board President, independently can dictate the process that is followed by the Board or a Board-established committee.  Although you have chosen not to participate in that process, I will ensure that your October 8 letter with the comments concerning Mr. Fleming and Ms. Kelley are provided to the committee and the Board.”

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