Friday, May 27, 2011

AG Rules DOE Employees Had No Authority

Attorney General Scott Pruitt ruled today that Department of Education workers who were paid by a private foundation were actually not state employees and had no authority at the agency, and the law does not allow a state employee or officer to be directly compensated by a private entity or person.

The opinion was requested by Senate Democratic Leader Andrew Rice.

Two of Superintendent of Schools Janet Barresi's top administrators were paid by a private foundation after the Board of Education rejected their hiring when Barresi took office.

Chief of Staff Jennifer Carter and Communications Director Damon Gardenhire are now on the state payroll, placed there after the new board of education gave Barresi the authority to employ them.

"We appreciate the Attorney General's clarification on this issue," Gardenhire said this afternoon. "The situation was an unfortunate and unusual one created by uncertainty. During the timeframe in question, no actions were taken that would be invalidated. On May 9, the State Board of Education took further action to remedy the situation. We're now moving forward to work on the serious issues of rethinking, restructuring and reforming Oklahoma's education system. Superintendent Barresi's focus is on making the Department of Education more effective and efficient and searching for more ways to get more dollars into our classrooms."

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