Arizona Joins Texas in Lawsuit to Stop Federal Overreach

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and State Superintendent Diane Douglas Announce that Arizona will Join Texas in Lawsuit to Stop Federal Overreach

(Phoenix, Ariz.) – Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today announced that they have joined ten other States in a federal lawsuit to challenge President Obama’s mandate requiring all public K-12 and postsecondary schools to open up boys’ and girls’ locker rooms and restrooms to students of the opposite sex, based on students’ perceptions of their “gender identity.” The Heber-Overgaard Unified School District has also joined the State’s lawsuit as a plaintiff.

Since the President has threatened to deny federal funding to all schools that object to this outrageous decree, Arizona has joined Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin in a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The lawsuit is focused on who should set these sensitive policies – the federal government via unaccountable agencies or States and local school districts. The challenge seeks declaratory relief against a number of federal agencies in order to block the implementation of the administration’s unprecedented interpretation of the law.

“President Obama has no business setting locker room and restroom policies for our schools,” said Attorney General Brnovich. “Deciding how to protect our children and preserve their privacy, while balancing these complicated issues, is best done locally and not by some one-size-fits-all decree from Washington.”

“When Arizona students attend school, they deserve a safe environment that is free from bullying and discrimination, regardless of their gender identity,” said Superintendent Douglas. “I know that our districts and schools have policies in place to ensure that is the case. The fact that the federal government has yet again decided that it knows what is best for every one of our local communities is insulting and, quite frankly, intolerable.”

On May 13, the President issued so-called “significant guidance” to K-12 and postsecondary schools nationwide instructing those schools to grant students access to Title IX facilities including restrooms, locker rooms, and showers based on their gender identity. The non-binding guidance broadly defines “gender identity” as “an individual’s internal sense of gender,” regardless of “the person’s sex assignment at birth.” The guidance also carried the threat of withholding federal funding if schools are found by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice to be out of compliance.

The formal filing is available here.

Superintendent Douglas Praises Signing of HB 2620, Invites Parents to Participate in 2016 We Are Listening Tour

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today shared her thoughts on the passage and signing of HB 2620, which will end the ongoing litigation between her office and the Arizona State Board of Education (SBE).

“I would like to thank everyone involved in the process of settling this disagreement, from the early negotiations to the passage of the final bill that was signed into law today,” said Superintendent Douglas. “I look forward to welcoming our investigators back to the Department and working with them to ensure the safety of Arizona students.”

Based on draft language provided by Superintendent Douglas, HB 2620’s final adopted provisions state that SBE will be responsible for the hiring and supervision of its four employees, while the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) will oversee the investigators responsible for reviewing cases of educator misconduct.

“With the lawsuits now behind us, I am very excited to invite all Arizonans, and particularly parents of school-age children, to join me as I travel across the state on my 2016 We Are Listening Tour,” the Superintendent continued. “The tour will be an opportunity for community members to share with me their thoughts on K-12 education and learn more about my AZ Kids Can’t Wait! education plan.”

The tour kicked off this week on May 9 at the Buckeye Public Library, Coyote Branch and continues tomorrow, May 12 at the Canyon Breeze Elementary School cafeteria in Avondale. Tomorrow’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30-8:30 p.m. with doors opening at 6 p.m. Details for each tour stop and a copy of the plan are available on the ADE website at www.azed.gov/weheardyou/.

Superintendent Diane Douglas and State Board of Education Announce Legislation to Resolve Ongoing Litigation

(Phoenix, Ariz., May 3, 2016) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas and the Arizona State Board of Education (SBE) today announced that pending legislation supported by legislative leadership and the Governor’s Office will settle the ongoing litigation between the two parties.

The legislative amendment to HB 2620 is designed to eliminate the need for continued legal proceedings. The legislation specifies that SBE will be responsible for the hiring and supervision of its four employees, while the Department of Education will have the sole authority to employ and oversee the work of all investigators responsible for reviewing cases of educator misconduct.

Both parties remain committed to doing what is best for Arizona students and are calling on all legislators to support the legislation. With the adoption of the agreement, the Superintendent and SBE will avoid spending more time and money in court and can continue working together to ensure that every Arizona student has access to an excellent education.

Superintendent Douglas Honors School Counselors of the Year

Superintendent Douglas Honors School Counselors of the Year

Arizona Department of Education to Provide Open Access to Free Educational Materials

Press Release – Arizona Department of Education to Provide Open Access to Free Educational Materials

Superintendent Douglas Supports Anti-Bullying Efforts

Press Release – Superintendent Douglas Supports Anti-Bullying Efforts

Superintendent Douglas: To Give Students the Education They Deserve, We Must Face Teacher Shortage Head On

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today shared her thoughts on the release of the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Educator Retention and Recruitment Task Force’s second report on the state of Arizona’s teacher shortage.

“All of my efforts as Superintendent are driven by the idea that Arizona children should leave school with the knowledge they need to determine their future, achieve their goals and be successful citizens,” said Superintendent Douglas. “Unfortunately, without highly effective teachers in every classroom we will always fall short of that goal. My hope is that by working together, we can use this report to end the teacher shortage and give our students the best education system in the nation.”

The Educator Retention and Recruitment Task Force, which is composed of ADE staff, school and district personnel and other education stakeholders, was established to identify issues causing the shortage of teachers and to share ways we can all work together to address the problem.

Included in the latest report are in-depth analyses of four critical factors that relate to strong educator retention and recruitment. These include economic impact; salaries, experience and quality; professional learning; and promising practices. Also discussed are several projects and efforts at the Arizona Department of Education that will support schools in their retention and recruitment efforts.

“As a former administrator, I can relate all too well to the sobering statistics addressed in this report,” said Dr. Cecilia Johnson, ADE Associate Superintendent for Highly Effective Teachers and Leaders and chair of the Task Force. “Given the importance of quality instruction to student achievement, the Department is developing resources and programs that can help our schools find and keep the outstanding teachers they need to be successful.”

Educator retention and recruitment was a key component of Superintendent Douglas’ AZ Kids Can’t Afford to Wait! Plan, which was released on Oct. 1, 2015. The plan included proposals for increased teacher salaries, enhanced preparation programs and strengthened teacher mentoring structures.

Superintendent Diane Douglas Delivers 2016 State of Education Address

Press Release – Superintendent Diane Douglas Delivers 2016 State of Education Address

Superintendent Douglas Announces New Online Parent Gateway

Press Release – Superintendent Douglas Announces New Online Parent Gateway

Superintendent Douglas Highlights 2015 Education Actions

Press Release – Superintendent Douglas Highlights 2015 Education Actions