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The Indiana Daily Student

education

Ritz responds to letter from Pence’s center

The battle between Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and the Indiana State Board of Education is ongoing.

The Indiana Department of Education released on Dec. 4 a letter from Gov. Mike Pence’s Center for Education and Career Innovation outlining its policy plans, one of which is the removal of Ritz from her current position as chair of the SBOE.

Ritz filed a lawsuit in October, alleging that the SBOE had gone behind her back in drafting a letter which requested the state’s A-F school grades be calculated by an organization other than her department.  She said this violated Indiana’s Open Door Law on public meetings.

The lawsuit was dismissed by Marion Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg, who said Ritz would only be able to be represented by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

The Board would also have to be represented by Zoeller, prompting ethical concerns.
Ritz also said Gov. Pence’s newly created CECI has been struggling to assume some of her department’s powers.

“Superintendent Ritz reaffirmed her position that the CECI is seeking to have her removed as Chair of the State Board and lessen her authority,” Ritz’s press secretary
Daniel Altman said in a statement.

The CECI letter outlines Ritz’s position as a problem.

“Indiana is one of only two states whereby the elected superintendent, who heads the administrative department, is also chair of the policymaking State Board,” the letter said.

The letter goes on to say that due to the size of the education budget, the right to determine the chair leader falls to the executive leader, the governor, as defined by the state constitution. The proposed solution is to revise gubernatorial appointments to include the chair of the SBOE.

“The chair is currently interpreting the role of chair very broadly to give her the discretion to accept or reject agenda items and motions suggested by board members,” according to the letter.

Ritz responded by saying she intends to maintain her department’s strength in Indiana’s education system.

“As an educator and a parent, I know that the protection of student information is one of the key roles of the department,” Ritz said in a statement. “I am committed to ensuring that the elected Office of the Superintendent continues to serve as Chair of the State Board while preserving the authority of the department to protect the voice of the voters and the integrity of public education in Indiana.”

— Stephen Kroll

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