- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - Lawyers representing Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas want a judge who threw out a lawsuit she filed against the Arizona Board of Education to revoke much of her ruling.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Patricia Starr ruled last month that Douglas had no authority to oversee and fire the board’s staff. But that came after she found that the suit was a “political question” inappropriate for a court to decide and asked for an advisory opinion.

A court filing by Douglas attorney Stephen Tully asks Starr to remove any parts of the ruling that found the board had oversight of its employees in her final order in the case.

“The court, having determined that it has no jurisdiction over this matter, should not have considered or rendered an opinion on the issues presented in this case, including whether the Board can enter into any intergovernmental agreement or which party can fire employees of the Board,” Tully wrote in a filing.

But board attorney Mary O’Grady said in a court filing Friday that Douglas’s objection to her proposed final order in the case “is transparent.”

“The superintendent wants to ignore the court’s legal reasoning (and is actively doing so) and is looking for legal cover for future disputes,” O’Grady wrote.

Tully has said he plans an appeal once a final order of Starr’s July 14 ruling is issued. The Court of Appeals earlier declined to hear an expedited appeal.

Douglas contended that she has the right to hire and fire board employees, while the board made up largely of gubernatorial appointees argued that state law allows the board to direct its staff.

The dispute between Douglas and the board has been brewing since February, when Douglas fired the board’s executive director and her deputy, moves that were blocked by Gov. Doug Ducey. Both Douglas and Ducey are Republicans who took office in January.

Legislators scuttled a bill to settle the issue in April, and the board then voted to move its staff to offices outside Douglas’ Department of Education building. Douglas sued in May, seeking an order giving her authority over board staff members and the right to fire board staff.

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