Witnesses push for district takeover
June 24, 2008
State Board of
Education officials heard witnesses Monday who said the state should take over
the beleaguered Roosevelt School District because the district failed to improve
learning for the school's 12,000 students.
In the first of a two-day hearing at South Mountain High School, attended by 100
people, Jennifer Pollack, attorney for the Arizona Department of Education, said
the district has failed to apply for grants and to implement a
She described the district as suffering from "systemic educational
Today witnesses for the south Phoenix elementary district are expected to
defend their district and superintendent, saying that Roosevelt was on an upward
trend and that to make changes now would set student learning back.
Roosevelt is a candidate for a state takeover because 11 of its 21 schools fell
below average in 2007 and four are failing on Arizona Learns, the state's report
The state Board of Education conducted its first hearing using a 2-month-old law
that allows them to take charge of districts that perform poorly.
About 15 witnesses will testify.
Under the law, the state Board of Education would also decide whether that
district's superintendent should be replaced.
Roosevelt is the first Arizona district to be a candidate for state takeover.
The Arizona Department of Education placed the blame for Roosevelt's failures on
Superintendent Mark Dowling, whom they say must be replaced because he didn't
improve student learning in 18 months.
Robert D. Haws, Dowling's attorney, said in his opening statement Monday that
his client came to the district when it was in a "crisis mode" in 2006. The
superintendent was given three years to make corrections, Haws said.
"This was a huge undertaking of Mr. Dowling," he told the state board. "They
(ADE) are here to pull a rope on that agreement."