Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Remember The State Board Motion That Led To Superintendent Ritz’s Walkout? Attorney General Says It Was OK

State superintendent Glenda Ritz speaks to State Board of Education member Brad Oliver after returning from a recess during which her staff and representatives of the Center for Education and Career Innovation hashed out a motion for the panel to approve a conceptual framework for a new A-F grading system.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

State superintendent Glenda Ritz speaks to State Board of Education member Brad Oliver after returning from a recess during which her staff and representatives of the Center for Education and Career Innovation hashed out a motion for the panel to approve a conceptual framework for a new A-F grading system.

It’s the motion that shut down the Nov. 13 meeting of the State Board of Education.

When members of the panel attempted to pass it three weeks ago, state superintendent Glenda Ritz walked out of the meeting rather than allow the board’s attempt to force its passage.

The motion would have brought in the staff of Governor Mike Pence’s new education agency to review the Common Core State Standards. Ritz blocked it because she was sure was “improper” and would violate state law — not to mention undercut her Department of Education.

And that motion was proper after all, staff for Indiana’s Attorney General told Ritz and board members Thursday.

The decision may come three weeks after the fact, but it’s a victory for the member who made the motion, Brad Oliver, and remains relevant as a deadline for approving new standards draws closer.

The State Board must approve a set of academic standards by July 1, 2014. With state political leaders growing increasingly chilly toward the Common Core standards, Oliver made the motion because he was worried the State Board was getting behind in its review.

Ritz told StateImpact this week she felt the board would have plenty of time to wrap up their standards review before the beginning of next school year and could vote on them in April.

But some board members’ doubts are creeping about whether that timeline is realistic. That’s why Oliver made the motion on Nov. 13.

“I am genuinely concerned about the board’s ability to meet its obligation,” Oliver said during the meeting. That’s when he offered the motion in question, which would’ve authorized the staff of the board — part of the newly-created Center for Education and Career Innovation — to seek the advice of experts in higher education as part of a review of the standards.

Ritz says that would encroach on duties state law required her Department of Education to perform. Here’s what she said at the meeting:

I don’t care if you organize your public hearings [as the Common Core review legislation requires]… You can go forth and you can do that, and honestly, you can do it anytime you want to. I don’t even need to be play a role in that… But regarding the process that is outlined in statute that the department does? We gather the input. From the K-12 and the postsecondary subject matter teachers. We are conducting the review process. There’s a reason for the check-and-balance that we have regarding standards — because there’s supposed to be a check and balance.

The Attorney General’s advisory opinion rejected that interpretation of the law, saying the State Board can reach out to teachers, subject matter experts and third-party advisors without infringing on each others’ statutorily-required duties.

“This conclusion does not comment on whether such an expenditure of resources is wise or the best approach given all of the relevant considerations and circumstances,” says Matt Light, a lawyer in the Attorney General’s office. But, he adds, “we do conclude… that the Board can choose to pursue this process if it deems it appropriate.

According to Light, the law Ritz cited refers to the process by which the Department reviews state standards on a regular basis. But the Common Core “pause” law the General Assembly passed last spring provided a special case. It’s a “one-time process,” Light writes, “by which the Board must conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the Common Core standards.”


  • David Weddell

    Her lack of knowledge of her OWN job is embarrassing. I believe there needs to be an investigation into her campaign finances and how the support of the ISTA got her elected while the ISTA had committed fraud on teachers and school employees with retirement and pension funds. Why is the media NOT looking into her financial supporters that misled the people about Tony Bennett’s preferential treatment of a single school that turned out to be false. Tony’s plan to change the grading system helped 165 schools across the state in their grades but Glenda and her thugs, like David Galvin, misled the public in their publication of what happened. They created a scandal just before the election so that Tony had no time to get the truth out to the public. She is a disgrace to the State of Indiana and needs to removed.

    • Tom Rademaker

      You sir are woefully uninformed. The ISTA has no role in collecting or administering the pension or retirement funds of any public school employee. No campaign fund irregularities have been attributed to the Ritz campaigns…none. And if you didn’t see Tony Bennett’s manipulation of the school grades as corrupt you are simply turning a blind eye to the obvious.

      • David Weddell

        ISTA committed FRAUD against schools and took money. What is your question again?

        Tony’s changes in the grading policy helped 165 schools.

        Who is blind here Tom?? I use facts, not opinions and Glenda Ritz is such a waste of time for Indiana. She has accomplished NOTHING in a whole year. If I were in Gov..Pence’s shoes, I would do what I could to move around her if she is only going to obstruct progress. Learn to work WITH people and quit the baby fighting Glenda!!

      • David Weddell

        As a matter of fact, when you read the articles I posted below, ISTA was accused of running a “ponzi” scheme with the schools money and who is to say that some of that money didn’t go into the campaign fund of Ritz? The ISTA is only paying back $.50 on the $1.00 to all of the schools that they stole money. What a scam.

    • Tom Rademaker

      The health insurance fraud was committed by the ISTA Insurance Trust, not by the ISTA. This was a completely seperate entity thatthe ISTA has agreed to repay part of their debt.

      Read the emails and follow the timeline to decide if what Tony Bennett did was ethical. I don’t care that many schools grades were altered by Bennett’s manipulations, if you look at when and how the changes were made the why becomes crystal clear. No one was misled. I read the emails, I followed the timeline, a logical person on seeing the facts could only make the same conclusion I have. He cheated…pure and simple.

      Couldn’t find anything to back up your wild allegations of campaign irregularities? The best you can come up with is ” who is to say that some of that money…” First of all, there is no money. ISTA never had control of ISTA Insurance Trust funds, only ISTA PAC money can legally be spent on political activities (again, not ISTA funds), and campaign laws require the disclosure of the sources of campaign funds.

      • David Weddell

        How do you separate ISTA from ISTA Insurance Trust. I will look into it and show you the same people are responsible at the top of ISTA and NEA which both organizations were found guilty of fraud. You might want to rethink your support of that teacher’s union you belong.

      • David Weddell

        OK, more proof that the lawsuit is against the ISTA itself as well as the ISTA Insurance Trust, You see, the money was deposited into the ISTA and was supposed to go into the Insurance Trust but didn’t quite make it there. THAT my friend is securities fraud. Here is a copy of the suit to help you get educated.


        In December 2009, the Indiana Securities Division filed a civil complaint against the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA), the ISTA Insurance Trust, and several other related entities. The complaint, filed in Marion County Superior Court, and since removed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, alleges that ISTA unlawfully offered and sold investments in a health arrangement to dozens of Indiana school corporations, violating several provisions of the Indiana Securities Act.

        Much of the money paid into the ISTA-controlled trust was intended to be used for health claims with a promise of a return on reserves. But according to the complaint, this money was comingled by ISTA with funds from other sources including long-term disability plan payments and invested by ISTA without the knowledge of the school corporations. The complaint alleges that ISTA now is unable to properly account for approximately $23 million intended for school districts.

        Specific counts allege ISTA and its entities sold unregistered securities and made untrue statements and/or failed to disclose information about the financial soundness of the health arrangement and how the school corporations’ contributions would be invested.

    • Tom Rademaker

      I will not be returning to see if you have replied. I don’t care. Arguing with a person who relies on poorly written three paragraph newspaper articles to justify their position on complex issues like this just invites incessant rounds of back and forth replies like yours. Read the primary source material and decide for yourself. If you still feel the same way I would be surprised. Not nearly as surprised as I would be that you actually made an effort to become better informed though.

      • David Weddell

        Typical liberal reply. You don’t want to know the truth. I know you are an educator and I am a retired educator myself. My Dad was a School Supt and I was raise with education blood my entire life. If you choose to believe what you believe about Glenda, that is your right. I am simply stating MY questions and wondered if the the ISTA, since they are guilty of co-mingling funds and were found guilty by the State of Indiana Secretary of State office, if BY CHANCE, they could have used that money to support Glenda’s campaign which was full of lies about Tony. You can keep your head in the sand if you want, I will keep asking until I get answers.

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