Gov. Jan Brewer appointed five new members Wednesday to the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind board of directors.
The five appointees will replace current board members who have been serving with expired terms. Three remaining board members will serve as holdover appointments to the eight-member board, according to a Governor's Office news release.
Board President Bernhardt Jones, who was part of a conflict-of-interest investigation due to a business relationship with ASDB Superintendent Robert Hill, is one of the members who will no longer serve on the board.
The new appointees are:
• Kathy Jankowski, former dean of the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University.
• Taralynn Petrites, lead faculty member of American sign language and interpreter training at Pima Community College.
• Elaine Baldridge, former director of children's service, Foundation for Blind Children.
• Michael Gordon, executive director, Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired.
• Dr. Mark Syms, otologist at the Arizona Ear Center.
The three holdover appointments are Sherri Collins, Orlenda Roberts and Michael Williams.
"The Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind fulfills a critical mission by educating students with unique and specialized needs. So, it has been troubling to see allegations of mismanagement made against ASDB," Brewer said in a statement. "I am confident the five new members I'm naming today will help give the institution the 'fresh start' that it needs."
The newest members will attempt to lead the school through a tumultuous time, with the state investigating the school for excessive travel expenses, in addition to the conflict-of-interest investigation.
The conflict-of-interest investigation focused on Jones and Hill's involvement with a company that administers an assessment test for classroom interpreters.
Some students, parents and school employees from the school's two main campuses in Tucson and Phoenix have criticized Hill and Jones for a lack of leadership, and have complained of a lack of communication with the other board members.
The group, which also was upset with the dismissal of Richard Layton, a popular agricultural teacher, and the nonrenewal of longtime administrator Nancy Amann's contract, voiced their displeasure with the school's leadership last month at a contentious board meeting.
Amann was one of five employees who filed complaints against Hill.
At the meeting, the board directed Williams to initiate the use of a private investigator to look into the complaints. The board's next meeting is scheduled for June 20 in Phoenix.
Contact reporter Jamar Younger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4242. On Twitter: @JamarYounger