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Pence suggests national organization should help SBOE

Governor Mike Pence announced Friday that he’s asked a national group to facilitate a discussion “within the State Board of Education,” hoping to de-escalate the tensions among Indiana’s top education policymakers.  Pence’s announcement comes two days after State Superintendent Glenda Ritz abruptly adjourned a meeting of the State Board without a vote.

Ritz adjourned Wednesday’s meeting after a board member made a motion she felt represented a power-grab by staffers of a new education agency Governor Pence created to oversee the State Board.  Board members say they’re frustrated that communication from Ritz’s office has been almost non-existent — a charge Ritz herself has made about the board. 

With relations icy, Pence called on the National Association of School Boards of Education to hold a conversation to help the board clarify its responsibilities.  In a letter to Ritz and State Board members, Pence wrote “I know you share my believe that it is of the utmost importance to Indiana’s children that the differences that have emerged between the Superintendent and other members of the Board be resolved in a civil and respectful way.” 

Ritz sent out her own statement late Friday saying, quote, “If Governor Pence is serious about resolving this issue, he needs to engage with Superintendent Ritz directly rather than through the media.” 

Kyle Stokes reports for State Impact Indiana.

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