Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Ind. Gov't. - "Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz sues state board of education" [Updated twice]
From a press release issued this afternoon by Glenda Ritz:
INDIANAPOLIS – In response to apparent violations of the Open Door Law by members of the State Board of Education, Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz filed suit today naming ten members of the Board as defendants. The lawsuit alleges that the named members of the State Board violated Indiana’s Open Door Law by taking action in secret by drafting, or directing the drafting of, a letter they sent to President Pro Tempore Long and Speaker Bosma dated October 16, 2013. The suit seeks to prevent the State Board of Education from continued violations of the Open Door Law and declaratory relief.Niki Kelly of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has tweeted:
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that ten members of the State Board violated Indiana’s Open Door Law when they took action by requesting that Senator Long and Speaker Bosma appoint Indiana’s Legislative Services Agency to perform calculations to determine the 2012-2013 A-F grades for Indiana schools. The suit alleges that no public notice was issued for a meeting that allowed for this action and that Superintendent Ritz was not made aware of this action until after it was taken, despite her role as Chair of the State Board of Education.
“When I was sworn in to office, I took an oath to uphold the laws of the State of Indiana,” said Superintendent Ritz. “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 over-stepped their bounds.
“Since my inauguration, I have worked tirelessly to communicate openly with the Board and the public. I do not take this action lightly, but my obligations as elected state Superintendent require it. I look forward to continuing to work to improve education for all Indiana students in a fair, transparent and collaborative manner.”
The suit is Ritz v. Elsener, et al and it has been filed in the Marion Circuit Court. The cause number is 49C01-1310-PL-038953. The Department of Education is using in-house counsel to avoid any additional costs to the state.
Niki Kelly @nkellyatJGThe question would be, are such "work-arounds" of the Public Meeting Law legal?
State Board of Education member Cari Whicker says there was no meeting or conference call with members to create the letter in question.
Niki Kelly @nkellyatJG
Instead, it was through email and some one-on-one calls with staff and members.
Here, from the Lafayette Journal Courier, is the letter the Board of Educations members, sans Ritz, sent to the House and Senate leaders.
The ILB is hoping to post the complaint filed in Marion County Court.
[Updated at 4:44 PM] Here, from NPR's State Impact Indiana, is a story by Kyle Stokes and Elle Moxley headed "Raising Stakes In A-F Grading Dispute, Ritz Files Suit Against State Board Members." It includes a copy of the complaint.
[Updated at 4:57 PM] Here is Niki Kelly's story in the FWJG.
Here also are some quotes from a statement issued today by the minority leadership of the house and senate:
Instead of working with the Department, the Pence-appointed Board of Education has prodded Republican legislative leadership to subvert the process, and in doing so, unashamedly trampled state law and politicized the traditionally non-partisan Legislative Services Agency.
The statute is clear, the Department of Education and the Superintendent have the sole authority to assess and determine school accountability grades. Any other interpretation is a disingenuous attempt to sidestep the letter of the law.
Hoosier students deserve to know the grades they worked for are accurate. Parents and teachers deserve the satisfaction of knowing their hard work paid off. Elevating cheap politics over ensuring accuracy is a far cry from what Hoosiers expect.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 22, 2013 04:24 PM
Posted to Indiana Government