State investigators fail to report teacher misconduct

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PHOENIX (AP) — A study conducted by the Arizona Department of Education has found that Board of Education investigators have not reported discipline information into state or national databases in about a third of the cases of teacher misconduct since 2010.

According to the report compiled by Cecilia Johnson, the Department of Education's associate superintendent of highly effective teachers and leaders, investigators have failed to report discipline in 79 of 230 cases. The problem came to light after an assistant attorney general who represents the board was doing research on discipline data.

"I'm shocked and appalled that this has been allowed to continue all this time," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas at a board meeting called Wednesday to address the issue. "We can see now people who are not being properly supervised are not dotting the I's and crossing the T's the way they should be to make sure it's reportable."

Douglas is using the information to bolster her argument with the board, saying investigators should be working for the Department of Education.

"We have seen a long track record of inefficiencies in a system, people working outside the direction of ADE, where they're required to work by law, and the job is not getting done and potentially children could be put in danger," Douglas said. "We need to get the investigations unit back under the direction of ADE."

The board executive director supervises the investigative staff. Karol Schmidt, who took over as executive director last week, was instructed to figure out why teachers aren't being entered into national databases and how to fix the problem, preferably before the next meeting on Dec. 21.

Douglas argues in a lawsuit filed in May that investigators for the board are required to work for her, not the board's executive director. A judge declined to rule on the matter.

Likewise, board president Greg Miller dismissed Douglas' offer to take over supervision of investigators, saying it is clear the problems came before she was elected.

"The fact that we haven't been following up with the reporting that needed to be done, that's shameful," Miller said. "You heard us, we will fix it."

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