Potential Scandal at the Arizona School Board Association: President Forced Out for Making a Stand

Devin Del Palacio. Photo Credit: Arizona’s Family

The Arizona School Board Association is an organization that largely falls under the radar of your average local current affairs aficionado. Typically you never hear about them unless something has gone very wrong. In that vein, a new scandal is brewing and is threatening to have many more people talk about them, what they do and why.

The most recent president of the association James Bryce was reportedly pushed out of his position and the association’s general counsel released…for what appears to be a case of doing the right thing. This stems from findings that its newly hired executive director lied on his resume and points to a larger problem of political coziness and backroom dealings.

The executive director in question, Devin Del Palacio, is well known in Arizona’s Democratic politics as a longtime member of the Tolleson Union High School District governing board. He unsuccessfully ran for the state legislature in 2018, ending up in 3rd place in a three-way Democratic primary. He ran for re-election to the school board in 2022 and barely squeaked into 2nd place by under 300 votes, with the 1st and 2nd place finishers winning election.

Del Palacio lied about his academic status in order to be eligible for the executive director job; he stated that he graduated from a college when he had spent less than one full year there. But perhaps the most interesting and damning aspect: Del Palacio used those falsified credentials in his application to be appointed to an open seat in the Arizona state legislature. Shockingly, it seems as though not even a basic background check was performed before this appointment.

Also shocking is the amount of pushback that Bryce received from the rest of the ASBA. It should be widely presumed and accepted that a material falsehood on the application you used to get that seat is grounds for termination, or at the very least a reason to ask a lot of hard questions and dig further. To have received a report demonstrating this and to not move forward with a larger investigation, but instead to gaslight the person who brought it forward and pressure them to resign is indicative of a deep rot within the ASBA.

The ASBA may have flown under the radar for a long time, but clearly that was a collective mistake that will hopefully be rectified. How over half of a governing board was willing to ignore material falsehoods and undermine the actions of someone who was attempting to shine light on them demands a true investigation, and at least on the surface seems to demand a full upheaval and real change in that board.