Friday, September 21, 2018

Lawmakers Press DHS to Protect Detained Kids After AZ Finally Cracks Down on Southwest Key

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sept. 21, 2018 


PHOENIX State Capitol – Democratic lawmakers today pressed state officials to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of detained immigrant children after the Department of Health Services moved to revoke the licenses of 13 Southwest Key shelters this week. Democrats had been pushing Governor Ducey for months to investigate and inspect the shelters, and finally saw a response when it was revealed in August that an employee at a Mesa Southwest Key facility had been accused of sexually abusing eight boys and had no required background check.
"We are happy that DHS changed its position on using its authority to regulate these controversial facilities and is now enforcing the law," said Rep. Diego Espinoza, D-Tolleson. "We fundamentally disagree with the Trump Administration's decision to separate asylum-seeking children from their parents at the border. But our state government should at least make sure those children are safe and free from abuse if they are going to be held in Arizona."  

Rep. Kelli Butler, D-Phoenix, who has helped lead the push for inspections and state oversight of the facilities, added, "Our members have been pushing the Governor and state regulators throughout the summer to take action. Now that they have, our focus must remain on the safety and long-term wellbeing of these children. Our members will remain vigilant as DHS takes its next steps."

Background on next steps according to DHS: Southwest Key has the right to request a hearing before the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings and to have an Administrative Law Judge review the Notice to Revoke. They have 30 calendar days after the Notice to Revoke was received to request a hearing and to respond. If they request a hearing, they may also request that the Department hold an informal settlement conference. If they choose to not request a hearing, the revocation of their license will be automatically effective immediately upon the expiration of the 30-day period following receipt of the Notice.


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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Democratic Leaders: If Republicans Now Want Charter School Reform, Let's Start With Our Bills They Killed


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2018


PHOENIX, State Capitol – In the wake of explosive investigative reporting by The Arizona Republic, Governor Doug Ducey and some Republican lawmakers have recently raised concerns over fraud and rampant profiteering in Arizona charter schools and are now proposing reforms. Deep concerns about charter school accountability and fraud are not new, just new to Governor Doug Ducey and Republican legislators. House and Senate Democratic leaders today called for Republicans to revisit the numerous proposed charter school reforms that they blocked last session and in previous sessions.

"It's nice to see Gov. Ducey has seen the light on charter school reform," said Rep. Randy Friese, House Assistant Democratic Leader, and sponsor of several charter school reform bills. "We have several common-sense charter school bills that have been waiting in the wings during his entire tenure and are ready to be enacted. The public is rightfully outraged over the lack of accountability and we are eager to get to work."

Not only did Republicans block all attempts at charter school reform in 2018, Republicans reduced accountability with a late-session budget amendment from Speaker J.D. Mesnard that removed the requirement that charter schools publicly post their budgets.

“The tough talk on charter schools coming from Governor Ducey and his Republican legislators is nothing but an obvious election year ploy. For years they’ve passed and signed legislation to make the recently revealed corrupt dealings completely legal, all while shutting down debate on Democratic bills to require financial accountability for charter schools. But now that it’s an election year they’re talking tough on charter school reform after their friends and fellow lawmakers got caught making off with millions in Arizonans’ hard-earned tax dollars that were meant to educate our children,” said Senator Martin Quezada (LD29). “Their disingenuous efforts are fooling no one; the people of Arizona finally see through their get-rich-quick scam.”

In the House, charter school reform bills included:
·         HB 2358 (Blanc) charter school board members; conflicts – Prohibited family members of the charter holder from serving on the charter school board
·         HB 2364 (Blanc) charter schools; procurement requirements. requires charter schools to adhere to the same procurement statutes and rules that all district schools must adhere to.
  • ·         HB 2365 (Blanc) charter school governance; meetings; records. – requires all charter schools to adhere to state open meetings and records retention statutes.
  • ·         HB 2141 (Friese) charter schools; lunches; national acts. requires all charter schools to participate in the national free and reduced-price lunch program.
  • ·         HB 2142 (Friese) charter schools; closure; property transfer. Transfers all real property owned by a charter school to the local school district upon the closure of the charter.

And from the Senate:
  • ·         SB 1174 (Quezada) ADE; charter schools; assessments - Requires the Arizona Department of Education to prepare and publish on its website an annual assessment of the impact of charter schools on school districts.
  • ·         SB 1297 (Bradley) charter schools; profit distributions - Requires the State Board for Charter Schools to monitor and approve any distributions in excess of the charter school's net on an annual basis. Approval/disapproval must be done in an open meeting of the board.
  • ·         SB 1299 (Bradley) charter schools; financial information; audits - Requires charter school audits to include compensation of non-instructional personnel in an administrative or ownership capacity. Charter school financial reporting would be required to be shared with and monitored by the Auditor General.
  • ·         SB 1303 (Quezada) charter school omnibus - Adds charter schools to the Auditor General's audit schedule. Requiring charter schools to follow the same procurement rules that district public schools are subject to. Specifies in cases where a charter school closes, requiring those assets to be returned to the state.
  • ·         SB 1304 (Quezada) charter schools; public meetings; records - Requires all charter school board meetings and financial documents to be subject to open meeting law and be available to the public.
  • ·         SB 1305 (Quezada) auditor general; charter schools; audits - Requires Auditor General to monitor charter school classroom spending.
  • ·         SB 1306 (Quezada) schools; teacher omnibus - Requires charter school teachers and superintendents to meet the same minimum standards as public-school teachers.
  • ·         SB 1308 (Bradley) charter schools; financial reporting - Requires annual financial reports to be numerically identical to what is provided in Federal 990. Any inconsistencies must be explained in the audit with specific plans on how to remedy the deficiency in the future.
  • ·         SB 1309 (Bradley) charter schools; accounting; procurement; audits - Concerning procurement, requires charter schools to take the lowest most responsible and responsive bidder. Requires all related-party contracts to be public information.
  • ·         HB 2542 proposed amendment (Quezada) - Removes provisions allowing charter schools to be exempt from the financial and electronic data submission requirements and procurement rules outlined in statute. Removes the State Board for Charter Schools’ ability to authorize an exemption from public bidding requirements for charter schools sponsored by the board.



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Monday, September 10, 2018

We Are Hiring! Deputy Communications Director and Constituent Outreach Liaison



The Arizona House Democratic Caucus seeks a talented, skilled and hardworking team player to serve as Deputy Communications Director and Constituent Outreach Liaison.

Position Description:
The Deputy Communications Director and Constituent Outreach Liaison provides deliverables and strategic guidance to elected officials, Chief of Staff and Communications Director regarding internal and external messaging and media to promote the work of the Arizona House Democrats, and is responsible for organizing and overseeing community and constituent outreach events. Applicants must have strong writing and social media skills, with multi-media capabilities (video, photography and graphic design) a definite plus, as well as ability to plan and staff events. The ideal candidate will be proactive and work well in a fast-paced, collaborative environment, identifying media opportunities, and helping grow the Caucus’ media footprint.

Duties and Responsibilities:
· Work with Communication Director to develop and implement weekly and long-term strategic communications plans, strategic messaging around specific legislation, and our digital strategy.
· Act as media liaison between members of the Caucus and members of the press.
· Monitor legislative committees for messaging and earned media opportunities.
· Monitor national and local media coverage of legislation and politics.
· Constant management and growth of social media platforms and website.
· Conceptualize and produce high-quality deliverables exhibiting a strong visual style, graphic design, and video editing.
· Search out and embrace new technology and best practices to promote innovative and engaging Caucus communications.
· Develop and maintain working relationships with press and constituents. Respond to media inquiries.
· Draft accurate and compelling press releases and media alerts, then pitch to media.
· Draft and pitch op-eds on behalf of members.
· Brief members of the public on legislative process and impact of potential legislation.
· Organize and coordinate press conferences and media events, community/stakeholder meetings, and townhalls.
· Draft accurate and compelling talking points on key issues and legislation.
· Manage and oversee our digital channels and social media accounts.
· Track social media and traditional media analytics and generate analysis.

Preferred Qualifications:
· Minimum of 3 or more years of communications experience.
· 1-3 years of experience working with high-profile public officials.
· Knowledge of Arizona and local political landscape.
· Understanding of digital media channels.
· Spanish speaking.

Compensation:
Salary range is $35,000-$47,000 based on experience. Benefits include health, dental, vision & retirement.

To Apply:
Please submit a cover letter, resume, and three references to Chief of Staff Cynthia Aragon, caragon@azleg.gov by Friday, September 28, 2018. Please include “Deputy Communications Director & Outreach Liaison Candidate, YOUR NAME” in the subject line. For questions please call 602-926-5848.