Attorney General Todd Rokita published a new dashboard Tuesday that allows members of the public to report “objectionable” school materials or policies.
Citing a need for students to focus on education rather than “political ideology - either left or right,” the dashboard publishes allegations ranging from gender identity support plans to school support for the BLM movement.
The dashboard doesn’t specify what counts as "objectionable.” Still, it has already published nearly 30 examples from 13 school corporations and one university campus, including Martinsville High School, Mooresville High School and the IU School of Medicine.
The Attorney General’s office stated it will follow up on submissions through “investigative tools” like public records requests but doesn’t give any more details. According to Chalkbeat, the office did not respond to questions about what investigations will look like, whether the office will pursue legal action or how submissions are posted.
As of Friday, Feb. 9, Chalkbeat reported the Attorney General’s office said it would not remove submissions, because the material had at one point been taught. It will, however, post challenges from school districts and update the portal accordingly.
The Attorney General’s office began to update the portal as of Feb. 7, according to the Indiana Capital Chronicle. As of Feb.10, three submissions have been changed: two gender policies from the Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation are now listed as retired and a gender support plan from New Prarie United School Corporation is now listed as revised in Nov. 2022
There’s a high bar for disproving submissions: districts must provide documentation that proves policies were repealed or that materials “are not, or were not, provided to a student, communicated to a student or parent, or part of any curriculum, program, or activity made available to the school community by a teacher, school district, or school corporation,” according to a statement sent to districts and provided to Chalkbeat from Corrine L. Youngs, policy director and legislative counsel for the Attorney General.
Rokita launched the portal without informing the Indiana Department of Education, according to the Indianapolis Star. In a statement on the Attorney General’s website, he called the portal “a platform for students and parents to submit and view real examples of socialist indoctrination from classrooms across the state.”
What’s on the site?
The site’s 29 complaints date back to 2018. While people couldn’t publish submissions until Tuesday, the reports include emails and submissions addressed to Rokita. Many of the school districts on the site have already clarified that these policies are out of date, and some posts contain personal contact information for the reporting party. School districts say they were not notified they would be included in the portal.
Martinsville High School and Mooresville High School have one submission each. The photo submission from Martinsville shows PowerPoint slides discussing sex and gender, adolescent identity and independence from parents. It’s not clear what year the slides are from.
Representing the Martinsville Schools Metropolitan School District, Superintendent Eric Bowlen said in a statement that they were unaware of the portal or its contents before Tuesday’s public release. School curriculum is publicly available, and Bowlen said they encourage families and community members to address any concerns with the teachers involved.
“The posting on the “Eyes of Education” portal does not reflect what the district teaches students. Instead, the posting suggests the district endorses radical gender identity curriculum, which is reckless and inaccurate. Furthermore, the posting lacks context and clarity,” a portion of Bowlen’s statement reads.
The submission from Mooresville is a 2022 email alleging Mooresville High School allowed non-transgender male students to enter female bathrooms and locker rooms. Susan Haynes, communications director for Mooresville Schools, said in a statement that the information was inaccurate and out of date.
“We have no record of the Attorney General’s office ever having reached out to Mooresville Schools regarding the accuracy of any statements made. Our schools follow all state and federal laws regarding transgender bathroom use; any statements to the contrary are incorrect,” a portion of Haynes’ statement reads.
Both schools’ statements included an invitation to Rokita to visit the school involved in the report to observe that they’re following standards and to discuss any issues.
Opposition from the state
Shelli Yoder is the Indiana Senator for District 40, which includes IU Bloomington and most of Monroe County. In a statement emailed to the IDS on Feb. 8, she called the Eyes on Education portal a “witch hunt that will be backed by no evidence, zero research or any legitimate information,” highlighted Indiana law’s current protections, and emphasized how its sharing of personal information could hurt minors.
"Where are the protections or guardrails to ensure kids are safe? What is our Attorney General now exposing our children to? At a time when state legislators are working to protect children online, AG Rokita is putting them at risk. And for what? So, he can collect false information provided by interest groups NOT in classrooms to bully teachers who acknowledge children with same-sex parents, or are kind to students who identify as LGBTQ+ or honestly teach our full history,” a portion of Yoder's statement reads.
Matt Pierce is the Indiana House Representative for District 61, which includes Bloomington. He sent the IDS a statement Feb. 7 opposing the dashboard.
"The Eyes on Education portal is just another example of Attorney General Rokita engaging in culture wars for his political gain. The time he wastes pandering to the most extreme wing of the Republican party could be better spent addressing real problems confronting Hoosier families,” the statement reads.
The Indiana State Teachers Association president, Keith Gambill, released a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, condemning the portal and calling for its removal.
"While he's busy with his online endeavors, let's not forget who's truly dedicated to the vital task of ensuring our children receive the support they need for success: the hardworking parents and educators on the front lines every day,” a portion of the statement reads.