Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Indiana Hasn’t Heard The Last Of Former Supt. Tony Bennett

We at StateImpact have many recurring education stories that will presumably continue for some time to come: standardized testing, teacher evaluations, school accountability…the list goes on.

Former state superintendent Tony Bennett delivers a speech in Indianapolis. (Photo Credit: Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana)

Former state superintendent Tony Bennett delivers a speech in Indianapolis. (Photo Credit: Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana)

One storyline we never expected to continue for as long as it has: the recurring presence of former state superintendent Tony Bennett

As we reported last summer, an ethics case against the former state official resulted in a $5,000 fine. The State Ethics Commission approved the settlement regarding allegations that Bennett used state resources during his 2012 re-election campaign, as discovered in a series of emails obtained by the Associated Press in 2013.

The exchanges also revealed that Bennett and his staff may have altered Indiana’s A-F school grading formula to benefit Christel House Academy, an Indianapolis charter school founded by one of Bennett’s supporters. Inspector General David Thomas cleared Bennett of charges for that accusation.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said Friday that the state will not file criminal charges in connection with either portion of the ethics case.

“No evidence was presented to justify criminal charges, and prosecution on each of these issues is declined,” Curry said in a statement. “I would note that submission of the same Inspector General materials to the U.S. Attorney’s Office likewise did not result in any Federal criminal charges.”

The Indianapolis Star reports Bennett declined to comment directly on the case, instead deferring to his attorney, Larry Mackey:

In a written statement, Mackey said Bennett “appreciates the thorough and professional review conducted by the MCPO and the conclusion reached.”

“This matter is now closed and fully behind him for which he is very grateful,” Mackey wrote. “As for Tony Bennett, whether in the public or private sector, he will continue working to improve the future of young people everywhere.”

Voters elected Bennett as Indiana’s schools chief in 2008. He served until his defeat by current superintendent Glenda Ritz in 2012. Soon after, the Florida Board of Education unanimously selected him as that state’s new education commissioner, a post he resigned in August 2013, following the AP’s published reports.

But, it seems we may not have heard the last of the educator in the Hoosier state.

Bennett is listed among the advisors for a proposed Indianapolis charter school. The application for ACE Preparatory Academy, filed with the state’s Charter School Board last month, also includes a Letter of Support from current State Board of Education member Dan Elsener.

The state charter school board held a hearing April 29 to gauge public input on whether or not to grant a charter for the proposed school. The group has not yet said when it will make its final decision.

Comments

  • Bilgewater

    Mr. Bennett played fast and loose with facts when it came to advancing an agenda that harmed public education and put teachers on the defensive all over the Hoosier State.

    I read somewhere else on the ‘net that he was seen in the Statehouse (lobbying?).

    If the stinging defeat in the election wasn’t enough to show that his ideas, himself, and his leadership style are unwanted in this state, what will convince him to stay out of education?

  • joe

    Bennett is nothing but a criminal. He should already be in jail. The only thing keeping him out is the criminal governor and state’s attorney in this so called state.

    Nothing but a loser, knows nothing about education who is laughing at us all. Lobbyist who will stop at nothing to kill public schools and give all the money to charter schools and his cronies ie., rethuglicon consultants.

    What a sad state of affairs…….just pitiful.

  • Keith

    The entire charter school movement is a hoax that is being perpetrated on the citizens of the State of Indiana. Tony Bennett’s affiliation with the movement provides further evidence of the waste of public funds that are being allocated to charters.

  • lastcamp2

    Someone hijacked the dictionary and redefined the word “shameless.”

  • Teresa Wardwell Wiley

    What is really scary is that with the passage of SB1 Tony could be appointed to the SBOE. That same law allows the SBOE to became a parallel education agency with the IDOE, so it would be quite a victory for those that want to eliminate the public school system to have Tony back in charge of Educational policy.

    • lastcamp2

      Does anyone know where I can get a huge supply of tar and feathers?

    • Hoosier_PD

      I am pretty sure that has been their plan the whole time.

  • Gyst53

    I think us average, common folk, middle class Hoosier’s know what is going on.
    The question is….can we vote out the problem? We did and it keeps returning as a wolf in sheep’s clothing
    “Some folks keep mistak-in temptation for opportunity.” Abe Martin

  • DEzerov

    Tony Bennett is of a similar ilk as Pence, Douglas Coe (of “The Family” aka “The Fellowship”), Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Daniel Elsener and Eric Miller. They all believe that they have some special wisdom granted from some higher power and have been anointed to transform the USA into a Christian-Fascist theocracy. As long as the voters in Indiana keep the current governor in and keep creating a right-wing super-majority, types like Tony will never go away.

  • Hoosier_PD

    Tony Bennett’s gigantic ego will never let him accept the fact that the lost that election back in 2012. I am sure he has been one of the masterminds behind the treatment of the woman who beat him..Glenda Ritz. The way they have publicly shamed her and are now taking her duties away from her as well as 1.3 million votes cast for her is despicable and I have this gut feeling that Tony has been behind it the whole time.

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