Democratic lawmaker calls on new school superintendent to fire program director. Horne spokesman defends director’s First Amendment rights.
PHOENIX — Two days into his second tour as state school superintendent, Republican Tom Horne is putting his stamp on the Department of Education with a slew of new hires.
One of them, Mila Makal, is raising eyebrows: The new director of a program that promotes good character among students is also a frequent poster of far-right and sexist content on social media.
Some of the extreme images Makal has posted on his Facebook page include:
- Far-right personality Candace Owens claiming liberals want to destroy Western civilization
- A vulgar description of Canada’s prime minister with environmental activist Greta Thunberg
- Joe Biden without a brain
- Women in bikinis brandishing semiautomatic weapons
Horne’s spokesman is defending the director’s free speech rights, but a Democratic state lawmaker who’s a former high school teacher and librarian says Horne needs to fire the director.
“Any of us can post anything we want on social media,” said State Rep. Judy Schwiebert of Northwest Phoenix.
“But that doesn’t mean we’re immune from consequences, especially when we’ve been named as director of character education for the State Department of Education.”
Makal left his job as an executive assistant at the Attorney General’s Office to run ADE’s Character Education program. His LinkedIn page indicates he worked under Horne during Horne’s tenure as attorney general.
The Character Education program dispenses state grants to schools for classes that promote positive traits among students, such as citizenship, respect and virtue.
That mission contrasts sharply with the images Makal posts.
“I find these images to be really disturbing, misogynistic, sexist, and really disrespectful,” Schwiebert said.
“This reflects really poorly on (Horne) as a leader,” Schwiebert added. “I would recommend that he find another appointee.”
Horne spokesman Doug Nick provided this response:
“Every person has political viewpoints and opinions. It doesn’t mean they can’t do their jobs well. Like every citizen, Mila Makal is guaranteed the First Amendment right to express his personal views.”
Horne, who served two terms as superintendent from 2002 to 2010, is cleaning house at an agency run by Democrat Kathy Hoffman for the last four years.
Horne’s hires include outgoing State Rep. Michelle Udall, who lost to Horne in the Republican primary for school superintendent. Udall is the associate superintendent for school improvement.
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