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Best of 2013 #2 – The Board vs. the State: Scandals in Public Education

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2013 was a volatile year for education in Indiana. Education leaders made national headlines with their highly visible dysfunction and disputes, most stemming from a rocky relationship between newly-elected State Board of Education Superintendent Glenda Ritz and the Indiana Department of Education.

CREDITS
The Best of 2013 is a production of the WFHB News Department.
Today’s episode was produced by Drew Daudelin.
Correspondents Stephen Brown and Casey Kuhn contributed to today’s reports.
Our theme music is provided by Legs.
Executive producer is Alycin Bektesh.

Controversy continues to surround lawsuit filed by Indiana State Superintendent Glenda Ritz

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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

Standing Room Only – Education Forum With Glenda Ritz

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On Tuesday, October First The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce presented an educational forum. The forum was open to the public and featured audience discussions. Speakers included Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s State Superintendent and Jeb Conrad, President of The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. This event was recorded on Location at Deer Park Manor by Community Access Television Services for Standing Room Only, on WFHB.

Daily Local News – October 30, 2013

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Trick-or-treat hours in Bloomington have been postponed to Friday, due to severe weather concerns on Halloween night; 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; On October 24th, the Bloomington Board of Zoning Appeals gave permission for a company to store hazardous chemicals on its property on the south side of the city; The City of Bloomington Sanitation Department will host a free Electronics Recycling program this Saturday; A proposed water rate increase would cost residents of Ellettsville an average of about three dollars more per month.

FEATURE
Local Money Pays for Ivy Tech Building
The Bloomington City Council is scheduled to vote tonight on a two million dollar deal that would help Ivy Tech Community College buy a new building next to its campus. The building would be used for nursing school programs, among others. The deal is being funded by certain property owners on the west side of town through what is known as a TIF district. Taxes on new development in that district help pay for roads, sewers, and other infrastructure projects in the district. In July, Ivy Tech Bloomington chancellor John Whikehart said the college needed money, partially because it was having problems getting funding from the state. Assistant News Director Joe Crawford talked to Monroe County Attorney Jeff Cockerill about why the TIF district’s funds would be spent on Ivy Tech, and how the new development could help the area. We bring you that conversation for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

BLOOMINGTON BEWARE
The 75th Anniversary of Orson Welles’ War Of The Worlds broadcast is a good time to remember that there are lots of Halloween stories that aren’t true…but there are some dangers you should watch out for, on a new edition of our consumer watchdog segment Bloomington Beware!

CREDITS
Anchors: Cathi Norton, Kelly Wherley
Today’s headlines were written by Yin Yuan, Casey Kuhn, and Drew Daudelin
Along with Joe Crawford for CATSweek, in partnership with Community Access Television services
Bloomington Beware was produced by Richard Fish, with correspondent Anson Shupe
Joe Crawford produced our feature
Our engineer was Jim Lang
Editor is Drew Daudelin
Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh

Indiana Superintendent Glendta Ritz to Speak at an Education Forum In Bloomington

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The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce will hold an Education Forum with Indiana Superintendent Glenda Ritz in Bloomington on October 1st.

The Chamber has been hosting Education Forums for three years. Last year they focused on early childhood education.

This year, they return to the topic of public instruction.

The keynote speaker Glenda Ritz is the incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction for Indiana. The Chamber’s Director of Marketing and Public Relations Kelley Brown explained why they are interested in bring Ritz as their keynote speaker.

“One of the chamber’s objectives is to create opportunities where our members and the public can engage with a dialogue with decision-makers that affect the community,” Brown says, “Bringing our education leaders, specifically Glenda Ritz, allows the public to ask questions that are really pertinent to our young people, our schools and the whole education process.”

Ritz will offer general information about public education and then lead a discussion of various education topics throughout the evening.

After, there will be a question-and-answer session.

“Given some of the issues that have been in the papers about Indiana’s grading system, I-STEP and other issues, I think we will get a great many questions,” Brown says.

The Education Forum will be held Tuesday, October 1 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 at Deer Park Manor.

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