Education board drafts open letter to Ritz

Letter asks Ritz to drop lawsuit

INDIANAPOLIS - Members of the Indiana State Board of Education said they hope for a fresh start Friday in an open letter to Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz.

The board members who drafted the letter – Try Albert, David Freitas, Sarah O'Brien and Tony Walker – are among those named individually in a lawsuit by Ritz. The suit claims the board violated state law by secretly writing a letter to top lawmakers asking them to have legislative analysts calculate A-F grades for schools instead of her department.

The letter asks Ritz to drop the lawsuit and join the board in "starting anew to work on behalf of the students and schools."

"We … are teachers, school administrators, professors and professionals in higher education and business," the letter reads. "We are bipartisan, and we don't believe politics have any business in education. We work every day to give students new opportunities in our own classrooms, schools, institutions of higher education and communities."

The board has been "continually frustrated by our emails and requests that go unanswered, missed deadlines and a lack of progress" on critical issues, the letter reads.

"However, in the interest of our students -- the future of our state -- we are ready to set that aside and start over," the board wrote. "If you truly want to work in a collaborative manner, then we ask that you drop this lawsuit, put politics aside, and come to the table ready to put the interests of students, teachers and schools first."

Ritz said Thursday, in response to a motion to dismiss her lawsuit from Attorney General Greg Zoeller, that she was open to mediation with the board, but that she would continue to pursue the lawsuit.

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