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Ritz files lawsuit against SBOE action

State superintendent Glenda Ritz has raised the stakes of her showdown with Indiana’s top education panel, naming all ten members of the State Board of Education as defendants in a lawsuit she filed Tuesday in Marion County Circuit Court.

At issue is the calculation of A-F school letter grades, which Superintendent Glenda Ritz’s office would typically handle. But State Board of Education members sent a letter last week asking the Indiana General Assembly to intervene.

In a statement, the superintendent says in drafting that letter members of the State Board violated Indiana’s Open Door Law.

Indiana Department of Education spokesperson David Galvin says Ritz and Governor Mike Pence have an agreement on how the State Board should be governed.

“If the governor’s board insists on going against the agreement between the governor and the superintendent, then the governor’s lost control of the State Board of Education. He’s appointed them.”

Galvin says the issue isn’t necessarily about A-F as it is about the constant secret meetings between the State Board of Education members and not including the superintendent in these conversations.

But in a statement, Governor Mike Pence defended the members of the State Board, expressing confidence that no laws were violated.

Dan Elsener is Secretary of the State Board. He says the panel has a responsibility to principals, teachers and students to get the school grades out as soon as possible.

“There’s either a problem with the competence of the department to get it out, or they don’t agree with accountability and so they’re just dragging it out so we can’t do it.”

Parents have the opportunity to challenge ISTEP scores. Galvin says the Indiana Department of Education won’t get those scores back until November 5.

Elle Moxley reports for StateImpact Indiana.

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