Indiana News

Ritz Sues State Board of Education Over Pursuit of A-F Data

Superintendent: Letter seeking legislative help violated Open Door Law

10/22/2013


Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz (WIBC.com file photo: Mike Corbin)

The simmering feud between state school superintendent Glenda Ritz and the State Board of Education has boiled over into a lawsuit, with Ritz accusing the board of violating the Open Door Law.

Ritz is asking Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg to block the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency from supplying the board with the detailed ISTEP results used to calculate schools' A-through-F grades and to assess teacher performance.

Ritz chairs the 11-member board. Last week, the other 10 members signed a letter to House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) expressing concern that Ritz's office still hasn't provided preliminary grades, and asking for the L-S-A's help in meeting state and federal deadlines. Bosma and Long asked the LSA to assist two days later.

Ritz's suit contends the agency has no legal authority to do so. She also argues the letter from the board requesting action constitutes a final action on a policy decision, and must be voted on in a public meeting.

Ritz says the department had to wait for the end of a 12-day window for parents to request their children's tests be rescored. That window ended September 30. A department staffer told the board earlier this month the data would be complete "well before" Thanksgiving.

Ritz is the lone Democrat in state office in Indiana, and has been critical of the accountability system enacted by former Governor Mitch Daniels and former superintendent Tony Bennett, both Republicans. The board by law must be divided between Republicans and Democrats, but all members except Ritz are appointed by the governor. The current members were appointed by Daniels and Republican Governor Mike Pence.

Pence has issued a statement "strongly supporting" the board's action in trying to get the grades completed on time, and declaring he believes the board followed the law.

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