Last week Indiana State Superintendent Glenda Ritz announced she is suing all ten members of the Indiana State Board of Education for allegedly violating Indiana’s ‘Open Door’ law.
“She specifically believes that it was done without a notice to the public or the superintentendent, who is obviously not just a member of the state board of education but the chair, and she felt she needed to take legal action,” Daniel Altman, Press Secretary for the Department of Education, says.
In the week since, Indiana Attorney General filed a motion to strike down Ritz’s lawsuit. Ritz, a Democrat, says she will continue to pursue the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, the Office of Governor Pence, who is a Republican, said that, “Pence strongly supports the actions taken by the bipartisan membership of the State Board of Education to ensure the timely completion of last year’s accountability grades.”
In response to the lawsuit, four members of the State Board sent an open letter to Ritz. In the letter, the members request that Ritz drop the lawsuit. They also mention in the letter that, while Ritz claims to work on open communication, the members have been continually frustrated by unanswered requests, missed deadlines, and a lack of progress on critical education issues.
The State Board of Education is housed under the recently established Governor’s Center for Education and Career Innovation. Lou Ann Baker, Director of External Relations for the Center, says that communication between the State Board and Superintendent Ritz, who is Chair of the board, has not been ideal.
“They found out about the lawsuit through the media,” Baker says, “There was concern among the members and all then of the members reached out to communicate to the superintendent.
In the letter, the members ask Ritz to drop the lawsuit and, “Put politics aside and come ready to put the interests of students, teachers and schools first.” Baker describes how the members felt when they learned about the lawsuit through the media, and why it’s important to move forward.
“The members were surprised and disappointed,” Baker says, “I think we’re wasting energy on this topic rather than the many educational topics that need to be completed, managed and need to move forward on behalf of students and educators in Indiana. Education is one of the most critical issues facing Indiana and everyone in the country today, and our board members strongly believe it’s important to get on with business.”
While Ritz says the alleged meeting happened without her knowledge, members of the board claim the meeting never happened in the first place. Superintendent Ritz will continue to pursue the lawsuit in the weeks ahead.
By: Casey Kuhn