Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Democratic Leader: Investigation Into Former Superintendent Taking Too Long

    A screenshot from Florida's public affairs television channel showing Tony Bennett, former Indiana state superintendent, resigning from Florida's top education post Thursday.

    The Florida Channel

    Former State Superintendent Tony Bennett resigned from his post in Florida over allegations of wrongdoing in Indiana.

    Indiana House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says he sees no sense of urgency from the state Inspector General in the investigation into the school grade changing scandal involving former State Superintendent Tony Bennett.

    Reports first surfaced in late July that Bennett altered school accountability letter grades in 2012 after it came to light that an Indianapolis charter school — a favorite of the former schools chief’s team — would have received a mediocre rating. Changing the metrics lifted the grades of 165 schools.

    A pair of independent analysts concluded the changes Bennett’s staff made were “plausible.” But Pelath says that report didn’t investigate motive. He says he wants to know why the Inspector General hasn’t provided any answers and when those answers might be coming.

    “We heard about statistical modeling, we heard about bureaucratic pressures on the Department of Education, we heard about all the rush to get things done and all the commotion in the particular office,” says Pelath. “But why did they do it? Why did they pick the winner in advance?”

    Inspector General David Thomas says he understands people’s interest in the Bennett investigation.

    “And we’re moving as quickly as we can,” says Thomas. “We want to be very thorough and we will conclude it as quickly as we can.”

    Governor Mike Pence says he won’t comment on the substance or progress of an ongoing investigation by the Inspector General’s office.

    “I’m sure that they’re going to do their work in a thorough and fair-minded way and produce the kind of information that will allow us and policymakers to make the kind of decisions that will allow us to preserve and improve our A to F grading system,” he says.

    Pelath says the delay raises questions about whether the Inspector General’s office is too focused on relatively trivial cases. He says the office may need more staff or authority to complete their work.


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