Chairman: Drive to recall Arizona education chief fails

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PHOENIX (AP) — A campaign to force a recall election for state Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas has failed, and Douglas says she wasn't paying attention to it anyway.

Recall campaign chairman Max Goshert said the volunteer effort collected approximately 40,000 voter signatures on recall petitions by Wednesday's deadline. That's well short of the nearly 370,000 required to force an election.

Goshert said the recall campaign was hindered by a lack of funding to pay for petition circulators and by voter apathy.

The recall petition cited Douglas' feud with the state Board of Education and said she was focused on increasing power rather than on students and school performance.

Douglas, a Republican elected in 2014, heads the state Department of Education but is only one member of the 11-member board, which oversees the state public school system. She has feuded with the board over several issues, including her contention that she as superintendent oversees the board's staff and whether the board's staff can have remote computer access to teacher records.

The board's staff, including its teacher-conduct investigators, moved from the department's building in May amid a dispute over who controls their work.

Douglas has said through a spokesman that she was focused on supporting students, teachers and schools and wasn't following the recall effort.

The department reiterated that position in a statement Wednesday when contacted for comment on the recall drive's failure.

"This has not been on Superintendent Douglas' radar at all. She dedicates all her time and energy supporting Arizona's students, parents and educators. She was elected by the people for that reason, and she will remain focused on representing the people through her efforts to give all Arizona students a world class education," the department said.

Goshert said the recall drive was a success in some ways, including the involvement of 1,250 people who officially registered to help collect signatures.

"Superintendent Douglas should know that she is still very much in the public eye and we still have every intention on keeping the spotlight on her," Goshert said.

Douglas narrowly defeated her Democratic opponent in the 2014 general election after upsetting the Republican incumbent, John Huppenthal, in the GOP primary.

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