Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

State Board Requests Changes To Meeting Procedures

    State Board of Education member Brad Oliver and state superintendent Glenda Ritz listen during a January 2014 meeting.

    Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

    State Board of Education member Brad Oliver and state superintendent Glenda Ritz listen during a January 2014 meeting.

    State Board of Education members drafted a resolution they will present at Wednesday’s regularly scheduled meeting that requests the creation of an Ad Hoc committee to make amendments to state meeting procedures.

    This comes after months of disagreement between the State Board of Education and state superintendent Glenda Ritz who chairs the board, including fights over agenda items, delays in delivering information from the Department of Education to the board, and of course Ritz’s lawsuit against the board regarding Indiana’s Open Door Law.

    The amendments look to address the issues at the center of these past disputes. One suggested amendment would give board members, alongside the Chair, control over designating meeting dates, times and locations. Another would extend appeals by board members to the Chair’s ruling to all actions and decision.

    Another even addresses the issue of these disputes head on, laying out new procedures for when board members argue with one another or the state superintendent. The amendment says if a dispute happens, rather than the Chair having final word on what is right or wrong, the issue will go to the entire board for a vote.

    State board member Brad Oliver accused Ritz and her staff at last month’s meeting of not sending out details regarding the No Child Left Behind waiver proposal five business days prior to the meeting. Ritz claimed her staff did send it. Oliver says it’s conflicts like this one that led him to help draft the resolution so the board can focus on creating education policy.

    “You can’t do that when basically any one member of the board, in this case the Chair, is basically applying their own interpretation of the rules and restricting critical deliberation and conversations that are supposed to be taking place there,” Oliver said.

    The Indiana State Teachers Association, a supporter of Ritz, say this resolution is an attempt to strip Ritz of her power as Chair of the board, but Oliver says that is not the board’s intention.

    “It’s not an effort to strip Glenda Ritz of any kind of power because I don’t believe there’s any power associated with the role of being the Chair of the state board,” Oliver said. “The role of the Chair is to run the meetings.”

    According to legislation that explains the State Board of Education’s role, the duties are assigned to the board as a whole and no individual powers are given to the state superintendent besides serving as the board’s chair.

    Oliver says to effectively implement the state’s new standards and create a new assessment this school year, board meetings need to be efficient.

    The resolution asks for the Ad Hoc committee to meet one time, after the board’s regular business meeting Wednesday and present a final vote on the amendments at the August meeting.

    Ritz’s spokesperson did not respond to request for comment.


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