State Superintendent of Instruction Glenda Ritz is suing because the state board of education, appointed by Governors Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence, took a vote to strip her of any role on reviewing the A-F grading system when she was not present. She is the chair of the board, by law. The decision was made in secret, without an open meeting.

Indiana Lesley Weidenbrener says the suit raises important questions:

“if a judge decides what the board did is legal, it could set a dangerous precedent for other public groups and may call for legislators to rethink the Open Door Law.

“After all, what would stop city council members from simply circulating a letter to approve a contract for snow removal? Or why couldn’t the Indiana Gaming Commission vote to discipline a blackjack dealer who broke the rules by just emailing the proposed punishment around to members?

“For that matter, why would a board ever really need to meet again at all if the members could take care of business through email?

“Sound extreme? Of course it does. And the action taken by 10 members of the State Board of Education was nothing like approving a contract, spending money or issuing a penalty.

“The members requested that the legislative branch get involved in a Department of Education function. They didn’t even have the authority to demand that lawmakers get involved.

“Still, there’s a reason these types of actions are supposed to take place in public.

“In a democracy, constituents and the media are responsible for holding their elected officials — and often appointed officials — accountable for their actions. That’s tough to do if the public can’t see the actions taking place.

“In addition, most government bodies let the public weigh in before they take action. That won’t happen when the decision is made through an email exchange.

“So this case is one to watch — not just because of the impact it could have on education and state politics. It’s also about the public’s right to know and it could affect every layer of government in Indiana.”

The bottom line is that Governor Mike Pence will go to any extreme–including breaking the law–to strip Ritz of the powers of the office to which she was elected by the people of Indiana.