« Ind. Courts - Reactions to Judge Posner's mea culpa continue; and what did the District Court say? [Updated] | Main | Ind. Courts - "Judge from Porter County to lead Indiana Court of Appeals" »

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - More on: "Ritz sues GOP education board: Claims draft of A-F letter broke Open Door Law"

Updating this ILB post from earlier today, Jim Shella of WISHTV has blogged this afternoon under the heading "Video used to challenge Ritz lawsuit." Some quotes:

State school superintendent Glenda Ritz declined interview requests Wednesday regarding the lawsuit she filed against the State Board of Education. She says the board conducted an illegal meeting without her. However, there is video that suggests that, in fact, she was in the meeting in question.

The board action that caused Ritz to run to court took place, according to a board spokeswoman, in a public meeting chaired by Ritz. You can see it on the official archive video of the October second meeting of the State Board of Education.

A board member suggests having the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency, or LSA, do its own calculations of A-to-F school grades as a check on grades issued by the Department of Education. “Actually, the department is more than excited about doing a check,” said Ritz during the meeting, “that’s just going to make sure that what we are going to release is correct.”

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday Ritz charges that a letter sent to legislative leaders regarding the LSA information was the result of a secret meeting. The suit was filed, said a spokesman, because she objects to LSA information coming out first.

There is no link to the video in the post. But there is the part of the video at issue reproduced in the WISHTV story this evening.

Watch it for yourself and decide whether this was "official action" - the ILB does not see anything other than a conversation at this meeting. There is no motion, there is no vote, authorizing the activities that followed. Of course, I don't know whether other actions of the State Board of Education are so vague and informal.

Sometime later (it is not clear whether it was the same day), but after the Board meeting in the video had adjourned, various Board members communicated with each other. Niki Kelly of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported this morning:

State Board of Education member Cari Whicker said “absolutely there was not a meeting.” She said a board member had emailed DOE staff for a timeline update and hadn’t gotten a response.

This led to a discussion between state board members and staff at the Center for Education and Career Innovation – an agency created by Gov. Mike Pence that has unilaterally taken control of the State Board of Education.

“So there was communication back and forth with each other via phone or email feeling everybody out,” Whicker said. “Staff drafted the letter and asked who wanted to sign it. I got the email, printed it, signed it and scanned it.”

Here is the letter that the Board, sans Ritz, claims was the result of the conversation in the video at the officially convened meeting. And it is the letter that Ritz claims was the result of actions of Board members at a meeting in violation of the Open Meeting law, that occurred later.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 23, 2013 06:09 PM
Posted to Indiana Government