Arizona Board of Education Relocates Office
Saying the situation for their employees had become intolerable, the Arizona Board of Education this weekend moved their staffers and computers out of the Arizona Department of Education.
Board members now are in the Capitol Tower after they packed up their files and equipment this past weekend from the education offices farther east on Jefferson Street.
They also now have their own email system and website.
Board members last month authorized Christine Thompson, their executive director, to look for new space. The weekend move and the new computer system — one totally separate from the education department — was done without notice until it was already done.
Board president Greg Miller said it's a direct outgrowth of efforts by Superintendent Diane Douglas to fire board employees.
"The fact that she did that. And the fact that they changed all of the electronic authority to where all their voicemails and/or emails could be read by their chief of staff," Miller said.
That decision was effectively overturned by Gov. Doug Ducey who ordered state HR officials to keep the employees on the payroll.
But Miller said that Michael Bradley, Douglas's chief of staff, still maintains that Douglas has the right to fire them. Bradley did not return calls seeking comment. But in emails to Kirk Adams, the governor's chief of staff, Bradley had his own complaints about board employees creating a "hostile work environment" for Douglas' staff.
Miller said that the physical separation should at least deal with those issues and protect his employees.
"All the geography does is brings a working environment that's not daily and hourly hostile. And basically we can move forward," said Miller.
But Miller said the physical move still leaves unresolved the contention by Douglas she has the power to fire board employees.
"We've taken a legal position that she didn't have the authority to do that," said Miller. "They've taken a position they do. My guess is that if they push forward, we'll end up in the courts trying to resolve it because they have not been willing to sit down and talk about it."