Board of Education president quits, blames schools chief



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PHOENIX (AP) — The president of the Arizona Board of Education resigned his post Wednesday, saying his departure was the result of an ongoing and bitter feud with the state's elected schools chief, Diane Douglas.

Greg Miller issued a written statement blaming Douglas, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, for refusing to work with the board and preventing it from implementing the policies it has adopted or assigning staff to help it do its work. The board creates statewide school policies, which the superintendent is then charged with putting in place.

"The Superintendent is currently unwilling to fulfill her constitutional duties as it concerns this board," Miller said. "Hopefully this action will allow the board to move forward with the very important work on its agenda and fulfill its constitutional role by encouraging the superintendent to move beyond her personal issues with me."

Miller said he's leaving the board immediately and said he's offered to resign in the past to end the feud.

Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said the governor "recently asked him if he was willing to step down as President in order to provide fresh leadership."

He added: "Greg's choice to resign his position on the board is one he made on his own, and one we respect."

Douglas spokesman Charles Tack rebutted Miller's claims that Douglas wasn't cooperating with the board.

"The superintendent has been and is committed to making sure the board has the resources it needs from the department to do its work," Tack said.

Ducey signed a bill in May ending a yearlong fight between Douglas and the board over the board's staff and investigators.

Douglas and the board have been embroiled in controversy since shortly after she took office in January 2015. She fired the board's executive staff, a move that Ducey blocked. She then sued after the board moved out of her offices into new housing in the Capitol executive tower.

They also clashed over control of investigators who look into teacher wrongdoing, with the board suing Douglas to force her to grant remote access to teacher files under her control.

Both lawsuits were dropped after Ducey signed the new law, which moved the investigators to Douglas' control and clarified that the board's executive staff were under board control.

A year ago, Douglas filed a criminal complaint against Miller, saying he assaulted her by grabbing her arm during a board meeting.

Miller told detectives he may have inadvertently touched the superintendent's arm while moving her microphone after she refused to stop speaking.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery declined to prosecute the case, saying he could not prove "the intent to insult, injure or provoke."

The board is currently working to revise education standards known as Common Core standards in place statewide. Douglas was elected on a platform to repeal the standards, which were created by the states but have drawn criticism from opponents who say they cede control to the federal government.

Miller said he hoped his resignation will end a political sideshow that has overshadowed the board's work.

"It has never been personal for me," Miller said. "It has always been about defending the integrity of the state board and putting kids first, as I have done throughout 40 years of educational volunteerism."

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Bob Christie

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