Attorney General: Glenda Ritz's suit unauthorized, invalid

Ritz does not plan to drop suit

INDIANAPOLIS - The state attorney general's office says the lawsuit brought by Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz is unauthorized and invalid.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller's office filed a motion Thursday to strike the Department of Education's court filing.

Zoeller said he is the only legal authority who can represent state officials in court proceedings.

Ritz's suit claims the State Board of Education violated state law by secretly drafting a letter to top lawmakers asking them to have legislative analysts calculate A-F grades for schools instead of her department.

"When I was sworn in to office, I took an oath to uphold the laws of the State of Indiana. 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," Ritz told the media Thursday. 

Board member Dan Elsener said Ritz knew about and approved the idea in an open meeting.

"There's a video in a public meeting where Glenda thought that would be a wonderful idea. And we just all agreed to a letter to send to ask them to help," Elsener said.

Ritz says that wasn't what she agreed to at all, that she only agreed to let Legislative Services Agency check the grades once her department finished calculating them.  

And she rejected criticism that her people have taken longer to calculate grades than Tony Bennett's staff did last year.

"Because of difficulties with ISTEP this year, there have been over 55,000 rescores requested statewide, and those have to be rescored by hand," Ritz said.

Ritz said ISTEP scores should be final next month so the A-F grades can come out soon after that.
Meanwhile Elsener was rejecting criticism from Ritz aides that board members are simply sulking over former Superintendent Tony Bennett's loss and trying to obstruct the new superintendent.
"This is a service to the state. I have no political agenda," he said. "What's our service? Help teachers and principals serve our students well. To be angry at Glenda Ritz contributes nothing to that. We would never do that. That's not the nature of our board. We want to do the right thing for children. Period."

The court has not yet ruled or scheduled a hearing in response to the AG's motion.

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