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State Sen. Seeks AG Opinion on Education Workers (Feb 16, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The state Senate's top Democrat wants an attorney general's opinion on whether it's legal for state education workers to be paid with private funds.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrew Rice of Oklahoma City said Wednesday that Democrats are concerned that the Department of Education is being directed by senior staff paid by a private foundation instead of with state-appropriated dollars.

The Board of Education, during a contentious meeting last month, refused to hire three employees requested by new Republican Superintendent of Schools Janet Barresi. Barresi has said two of them, communications director Damon Gardenhire and chief of staff Jennifer Carter, receive paychecks from the private Communities Foundation of Oklahoma.

Some board members have questioned the payments.

Gardenhire says Barresi welcomes the review.

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