In Rare Move, Arizona Takes Control of a Local School District
When Robert Donofrio retired as the longtime superintendent of Murphy Elementary School District in 2004, the small district had a "well-regarded" reputation, he said.
Murphy led its cohort of low-income, urban Phoenix schools in student achievement, and the district appeared to be a model of cohesiveness among parents, educators and community members.
Fourteen years later — as superintendents came and went, teachers cycled through in droves, and a large swath of parents became disillusioned with district leadership — Murphy's fate now rests with the state.
Monday, the Arizona State Board of Education unanimously voted to appoint a receiver to oversee the district's operation amid a $2.2 million spending deficit that publicly unraveled years of tension within the community and mismanagement in the district.
“If we don’t give them help, I don’t know what’s going to happen with these children. I think they’ve suffered enough.”
State intervention in public schools is rare in Arizona, and it is unclear how many years the receivership process will last for Murphy.