Pharos-Tribune

State News

October 30, 2013

Schools head plans to go ahead with lawsuit

Ritz hopes to push early learning, lower mandatory age.

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana¹s state superintendent of public instruction, Glenda Ritz, told the Tribune-Star Tuesday that she is continuing her pursuit of a lawsuit against other members of the state Board of Education for alleged violation of the Open Door Law.

"Currently, that is my decision," she said in a telephone interview, several hours after she had visited Terre Haute to speak to the Rotary Club.

She filed the suit last week, alleging the board violated state law by secretly drafting a letter to top lawmakers asking them to have legislative analysts calculate A-to-F grades for schools instead of having her department make those calculations.

The action was taken without her knowledge, she said. She chairs the state Board of Education.

Attorney general Greg Zoeller has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and four state board of education members asked her to drop the suit. Despite the lawsuit, she continues to prepare for next week's meeting of the education board on Nov. 8.

Asked if the lawsuit would create difficulties in her working relationship with the board, she said, "I plan to conduct business at the State Board of Education meeting as I have always conducted business — in a professional manner, moving through the agenda and getting decisions made."

She does not believe the lawsuit and strained relationship with the state board will affect decisions that need to be made regarding education policy in Indiana, she said. "I'm hoping we're about decisions based on what is on the agenda."

She said she hopes the conflict does not adversely affect public education in Indiana. "I hope that common sense prevails," she said. Ritz said she will continue to "work on decisions that are good for kids."

Asked if she would run for superintendent again, knowing the challenges she would face from Republican board members, legislative leaders and the governor, she said the superintendency "is a good fit for me." She described herself as "a strong education leader." Ritz is a Democrat.

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