Fallin favors reforming director’s authority
By Nathan Thompson, Bartlesville Examiner Enterprise

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin told the Examiner-Enterprise on Tuesday that the recent actions of State Superintendent Janet Barresi were not wise, but she will not ask her to resign.

Barresi has come under fire for the recent appointment of Larry Birney as an assistant superintendent overseeing accreditation and compliance for the Oklahoma Department of Education. Baressi created the position and hired Birney just weeks before voters go to the polls to select her replacement.

Birney, who has an extensive background in law enforcement, was the executive director for the Council of Law Enforcement Education and Training from 2008 until 2011, when he resigned following the creation of a panel to investigate his conduct. Birney is the husband of Barresi’s general council, Kim Richey.

“I think that Supt. Barresi needs to accept the fact that she lost the election,” Fallin said. “She needs to exit her job gracefully when the job ends. There are only a couple of months left. I don’t think it would be helpful at this point in time to have a vacancy (of State Superintendent). I think she can help with a smooth transition to whoever the next superintendent is, and to keep things peaceful and calm. I don’t think she should be hiring new positions.”

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