(Photo: Mike Barcia, Arizona School Boards Association)
Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, who is about to make new board appointments, believed that pressuring Greg Miller to leave as president of the state Board of Education would smooth over the rocky relationship between Arizona schools chief Diane Douglas and the board.
Miller decided there was no reason for him to stay on as a member of the board. He agreed to leave, but wanted to control the wording of the press release regarding his resignation, along with the timing of it. He also asked that the charter school he runs would continue to get the “political protections” that he would no longer be able to provide, says Howard Fischer of the Arizona Daily Sun.
Daniel Scarpinato, a gubernatorial press aide, said the governor decided that education priorities were not going to be met with Miller leading the board, especially because of the continuing conflict with Douglas.
“Something that’s critical to that happening is for the board and the department to have a productive relationship in order to achieve the goals that the board has and the superintendent and the governor share,” he said.
Douglas will hold her position through 2018 at least, and Miller agreed that something had to be done. Miller’s leaving also will allow Ducey to be in full control of the 11-member board. He now has three members he appointed serving on the board, but still has three openings to fill, along with Miller’s slot.
Douglas made a statement about the resignation, but never mentioned Miller, nor did she mention the year-long feud she has been a part of under the direction of Miller. She did use the opportunity to declare that she is “the only elected member of the state Board of Education” while all others are appointed by the governor.
The argument has been centered, in part, on Douglas’ desire to eliminate the Common Core standards. The board, however, approved the standards and is executing them. The differences began when a lawsuit was filed over who controls the board’s staff.
Miller complains that certain other issues were ongoing, such as Douglas refusing to give the board the necessary staff needed to do its work. When he was asked what kind of work he meant, his answer was:
“Just about everything,” he said. “Every time we try and get something moving, the resources aren’t available.”
While it is well-known that both Douglas and Miller have strong personalities, the dispute is also related to specific state education laws.
When Douglas took office in January 2015, she fired the board’s executive staff, but the action was overturned by Ducey. The board moved out of the superintendent’s’ office and into the Capitol executive tower, which caused Douglas to once again sue, according to The Associated Press.
Another clash came when Douglas wanted control of investigators who look into teacher misconduct. The board filed a complaint against Douglas for not granting remote access to educators’ files which were under her control.
The lawsuits were dropped after Ducey passed a new state law which mandates that Douglas control the investigators and the board’s executive staff be regulated by the board.