News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 22, 2013

State superintendent of public instruction sues Indiana Board of Education

Staff Report
The Tribune-Star

---- — INDIANAPOLIS – In response to apparent violations of the Open Door Law by members of the State Board of Education, Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz filed suit today naming 10 members of the board as defendants.

The lawsuit alleges members of the state board violated Indiana’s Open Door Law by taking action in secret, according to an IDOE news release.

The alleged violation occurred when board members drafted, or directed the drafting of, a letter they sent to Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma dated Oct. 16.

The suit seeks to prevent the State Board of Education from continued violations of the Open Door Law and declaratory relief.

The lawsuit alleges the state board violated the Open Door Law when members took action by requesting that Long and Bosma appoint Indiana’s Legislative Services Agency to perform calculations to determine the 2012-2013 A-F grades for Indiana schools.

The suit alleges that no public notice was issued for a meeting that allowed for this action and that Superintendent Ritz was not made aware of this action until after it was taken, despite her role as chair of the State Board of Education. 

“When I was sworn in to office, I took an oath to uphold the laws of the State of Indiana,” said Superintendent Ritz. “I take this oath very seriously and I was dismayed to learn that other members of the state board have not complied with the requirements of the law.  While I respect the commitment and expertise of members of the board individually, I feel they have over-stepped their bounds,” she states in the news release. 

The suit is Ritz v. Elsener, et al and it has been filed in the Marion Circuit Court. The Department of Education is using in-house counsel to avoid any additional costs to the state.