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State board of education takes over school turnarounds



The State Board of Education voted Wednesday to move more control of school takeovers from the Department of Education to the board.

The SBOE proposed managing intervention in failing schools eligible for state takeover, as well as establishing contracts with companies to run the schools.

Next year, the board will push for a legislation change that would allow the SBOE to have access to financial and data resources related to school turnarounds.

The meeting, which lasted longer than seven hours, included now-common bickering between State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and other members of the board.

Much of the legislative agenda, which was approved by board members at the Wednesday meeting, is devoted to clarifying the SBOE’s authority in relation to the state DOE.

The board and Superintendent Ritz, who serves as head of the DOE, have clashed multiple times regarding each agency’s jurisdiction, as the SBOE is overseen by the Center for Education and Career Innovation rather than the DOE.

Ritz said she sees the legislative and practice recommendations regarding school turnarounds as a move to make the Department of Education obsolete.

“That’s why the conversation is important, because this is way beyond school turnarounds,” Ritz said. “You are actually recommending that the State Board of Education be the state education agency.”

District 3 Representative Cari Whicker said the board is responsible for ensuring the quality of Indiana’s schools and needs to have more oversight.

“There has to be some ability to have some input into what happens there,” she said.

The board voted 9 to 2 to approve recommendations from the School Turnaround Committee.

SBOE approval means those recommendations will be sent to the governor and legislature for consideration.

The board will also pursue legislation that would allow the state to take over schools that have F grades after four years instead of six.

School districts with one or more failing schools could also become eligible for state intervention as well.

The legislative agenda calls for a statute clarifying the SBOE’s right to approve state models for teacher evaluations as well as establishing oversight to ensure the compliance of local evaluation models.

The board will also recommend a statute that will ensure the SBOE’s authority to establish Indiana school standards and assessments and check their validity.

Board members also discussed giving schools the option of making up snow days with e-learning days, in which students attend class online rather than going to school.

The DOE created a policy in September that would allow schools to implement the e-learning strategy.

Board members voted to adopt a resolution to ask the office of Gov. Mike Pence for legislative guidance on the policy.

The DOE was directed to give a presentation at the board’s next meeting with information regarding requirements and standards for the e-learning days and how they will be implemented.

The SBOE will convene again Jan. 7 for its first meeting in 2015.

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