Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz was no doubt sending a message that she doesn’t intend to be pushed around when she sued the State Board of Education this week for violating the state’s Open Door Law. She may not win in court. But whether she gains anything by suing is another question.
The lawsuit also calls attention to an issue with the Open Door Law, which says the public’s business should be conducted in meetings that are open to the public. It’s a good law. But if governing bodies are determined to act in secret, they can find ways to do it.
At issue is the State Board of Education’s Oct. 16 letter to Indiana House and Senate leaders asking them to direct the Legislative Services Agency to calculate A-to-F grades for Indiana schools, something normally done by staff at Ritz’s Department of Education.
Ten of the 11 board members signed the letter. Ritz, who chairs the board, said she wasn’t told of the letter until it was delivered. She sued on Tuesday, alleging the other board members conducted an illegal secret meeting to draft and sign the letter.
Tension between Ritz and board members has been growing for months, and the letter and lawsuit take it to a new level. And the Department of Education news release announcing the suit suggests Ritz sees the board’s efforts to undercut her authority as being encouraged by Gov. Mike Pence, who appoints the board members. Continue reading