Indiana Superintendent Ritz Sues State Board Over Meetings, Grades

An already fragile relationship between the Indiana State Board Of Education and Glenda Ritz, chief of Indiana’s schools, has become even more strained.  Ritz is suing the board members for not adhering to the laws governing it, saying that she believes that as individuals each board member is respectable,  but as a collective body they have crossed a line, reports Barb Berggoetz from the Indy Star.

“When I was sworn in to office, I took an oath to uphold the laws of the state of Indiana,” Ritz said in a statement. “I take this oath very seriously, and I was dismayed to learn that other members of the state board have not complied with the requirements of the law. While I ­respect the commitment and expertise of members of the board individually, I feel they have overstepped their bounds.”

Ritz’s claim is that the board members had a meeting without her knowledge, and at that meeting a letter was written and sent to accelerate action on the controversial A to F grades for Indiana schools.

The legal action was put into motion at the Marion Circuit Court, with Ritz hoping to reverse the actions undertaken in the secret meeting.  One of the board members wasn’t even aware that legal action was taking place.

“State board member Daniel Elsener, president of Marian University, said he hadn’t seen the lawsuit and didn’t know that Ritz had a problem with the board’s action.”

Some of the board members have indicated that they are unhappy with the pace at which the grades are calculated, but Ritz says that grades cannot be given until the parents of the children have had a chance to appeal

The grading system itself was created by former Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett, and the system has been in the spotlight due to controversy over fairness. Recently, Christel House Academy School lobbied successfully to have its grades improved once it realized that the original ratings were below expectations.

The grades have a direct impact on the amount of funding a school gets and the amount of money in bonuses teachers are set to get.

“Because teachers and schools depend on these letter grades for salary increases, performance bonuses and federal funding, the statement said, Pence will continue “to work in good faith” with the board and department to get the job done.”