Arizona Schools Superintendent Douglas testifies against authority-limiting bill

State Superintendent Diane Douglas passionately defended the importance of her job Thursday morning in front of the Senate Education Committee, whose members were interested in reducing her authority over the state board of education.

Senate Bill 1416, proposed by Senator Jeff Dial (R-Dist. 18), would severely limit Douglas’ power. She claimed it would turn her into a powerless figurehead.

“Imagine how you would feel if someone introduced a bill that would make you a legislator in name only,” Douglas asked of the committee.

Douglas’ testimony alone lasted longer than 35 minutes and was filled with a number of tense exchanges between her, Dial and the committee chairwoman, Senator Sylvia Allen (R-Dist. 6).

Her primary argument was that the State Board of Education needs the superintendent’s oversight because the board only meets for a few hours each month.

“The citizens of Arizona are entitled to know that every single employee who works for the state … (is) properly supervised on an ongoing, day-to-day basis to do the job they’re being paid to do,” Douglas said after her remarks to the committee. “That’s why it’s tasked with the superintendent’s office because we’re the ones that are there to do it.”

Douglas didn’t comment on whether she would pursue a lawsuit if the bill were to get Gov. Doug Ducey’s signature and become law.