Campaign to Recall Arizona Schools Super Diane Douglas Fails


The Coalition to Recall Diane Douglas, Arizona’s state schools superintendent, has failed due to lack of funding and time, as well as voter apathy. The coalition’s chairman, Max Goshert, said his volunteers collected about 40,000 voter signatures on recall petitions by the deadline on Wednesday. The required number of signatures needed was approximately 366,000 to establish a special election, says Ricardo Cano of The Arizona Republic.

Goshert explained that supporters raised only $10,000 and could not pay volunteers. Help from 1,250 volunteers and 350 petition-signing events did not benefit the coalition’s cause. Many voters did not recognize Douglas’ name when they were approached by volunteers, said the chairperson.

“This has not been on Superintendent Douglas’ radar at all,” a Douglas spokeswoman said in an email Wednesday. “She dedicates all her time and energy supporting Arizona’s students, parents and educators.

The spokesperson added that the superintendent would continue her AZ Kids Can’t Afford to Wait! Plan until it comes to fruition. A Republican, Douglas was accused by the coalition of being more concerned about her personal power than about Arizona’s students and schools’ performance.

Her 2014 campaign platform was centered on getting rid of the state’s Common Core-related learning standards, and she won the race for Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction by defeating Democrat David Garcia in a very close vote.

The recall effort began weeks after Douglas was elected and since then she has feuded with the Board of Education over who is responsible for controlling the board’s members and other policy issues concerning the state’s learning standards.

Douglas has also argued with Gov. Doug Ducey during her first year in office after he vetoed her firing of two board members on the basis that she did not have the authority to do it.

Greg Miller, the president of the state Board of Education, found himself on the receiving end of Douglas’ wrath over allegedly assaulting her at a board meeting in August. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery did not pursue criminal charges because of a lack of evidence.

The issue that has caused tension between the board and Douglas is that she believes, as the head of the state Department of Education, that it is her duty to oversee the board’s staff and monitor whether the staff can remotely access teachers’ records. The board’s staff says Douglas is only one member of the 11-member board which oversees the state public school system, according to the Associated Press’ Paul Davenport.

The board’s staff and its teacher-conduct investigators moved out of the education department building in May.

Goshert said the recall effort was something of a success even though an insufficient number of signatures were obtained.

“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.”

He noted that although his group was unsuccessful in raising the required number of signatures, the campaign did put the spotlight on Superintendent Douglas and, he hopes, will push her into action in a way that she has not yet demonstrated.