Governor Mike Pence, in his continuing efforts to make sure that the duly elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz is stripped of her constitutional authority as chair of the state board of education, has encouraged the state board to hold secret meetings when Ritz was not present.

At a recent meeting, the Pence board voted to transfer authority over the A-F grading system from the board to the state legislature. This is the same grading system that was created and manipulated by former Superintendent Tony Bennett to protect the charter school of a campaign contributor.

Superintendent Ritz issued the following press release today:


Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Daniel Altman
Press Secretary

INDIANAPOLIS – In response to apparent violations of the Open Door Law by members of the State Board of Education, Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz filed suit today naming ten members of the Board as defendants.  The lawsuit alleges that the named members of the State Board violated Indiana’s Open Door Law by taking action in secret by drafting, or directing the drafting of, a letter they sent to President Pro Tempore Long and Speaker Bosma dated October 16, 2013.  The suit seeks to prevent the State Board of Education from continued violations of the Open Door Law and declaratory relief.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that ten members of the State Board violated Indiana’s Open Door Law when they took action by requesting that Senator Long and Speaker Bosma appoint Indiana’s Legislative Services Agency to perform calculations to determine the 2012-2013 A-F grades for Indiana schools.  The suit alleges that no public notice was issued for a meeting that allowed for this action and that Superintendent Ritz was not made aware of this action until after it was taken, despite her role as Chair of the State Board of Education.

“When I was sworn in to office, I took an oath to uphold the laws of the State of Indiana,” said Superintendent Ritz.  “I take this oath very seriously and I was dismayed to learn that other members of the State Board have not complied with the requirements of the law.  While I respect the commitment and expertise of members of the board individually, I feel they have over-stepped their bounds.

“Since my inauguration, I have worked tirelessly to communicate openly with the Board and the public.  I do not take this action lightly, but my obligations as elected state Superintendent require it.   I look forward to continuing to work to improve education for all Indiana students in a fair, transparent and collaborative manner.”

The suit is Ritz v. Elsener, et al and it has been filed in the Marion Circuit Court.  The cause number is 49C01-1310-PL-038953.  The Department of Education is using in-house counsel to avoid any additional costs to the state.