Arizona Senate passes bill that limits Diane Douglas’ power over education board

Feb 24, 2016, 12:01 PM

PHOENIX — The bickering between Arizona’s schools chief and the Board of Education may be nearing resolution after the Senate passed a bill that limited Diane Douglas’ power over the panel.

Republican Sen. Jeff Dial’s bill passed, 24-5, and received no pre-vote debate. Senate Bill 1416 now will move on to the House.

Douglas, superintendent of public instruction, has been fighting with the board since early in her tenure. A year ago, barely a month after she took office, Douglas fired two board administrators.

Gov. Doug Ducey quickly reversed the terminations.

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

She and the board have filed lawsuits against each other.

Dial said ending those battles was the point of the bill.

In a statement a few weeks ago she said, “SB 1416 strips the office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of many of its constitutional duties and gives them to unelected board members that meet around once per month.”

Dial disagreed with Douglas’ interpretation.

“Actually, if you look at the Constitution … it basically says that the powers will be proscribed by law,” he said.

“Maybe she’s not aware of this, but we make the laws down here at the Legislature.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona Senate passes bill that limits Diane Douglas’ power over education board