Ritz Walks Out On Meeting, Blames Governor Of Commandeering Her Dept. (VIDEO)

By Emma Koch - 21Alive

November 13, 2013 Updated Nov 13, 2013 at 6:21 PM EDT

INDIANA (21Alive) -- The stormy relationship between Superintendent Ritz and Governor Pence ramped up Wednesday as Ritz walked out of a meeting of the Indiana State Board of Education. The board signed off on a new outline for the state school grading system.

But it was another issue that sparked outrage by Ritz. It was a resolution the board wanted that would have allowed the panel created by Governor Pence to review common core standards as well as her department. Ritz adjourned the meeting, accusing the governor of trying to take over her department. Below is a release from her office:

I was elected as Indiana’s chief education officer to be an advocate for public education. I have the duty to coordinate education policy, and serve as a check and balance to Governor Pence and the State Board of Education.

The resolution that brought today’s meeting to a halt, confirms what I said yesterday in a letter to the editor. Governor Pence, through his newly created education agency, the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI), is undermining the exceptional work done every day by the Department of Education.

As you are all now aware, this is causing unnecessary conflict in education, which does nothing to serve Indiana’s children.

Let me be clear. The resolution that brought today’s meeting to a halt was written by CECI staff and it improperly inserted State Board of Education staff, working for the Governor’s new education agency, to take over the academic standards review process.

Indiana law is clear. The process of evaluating academic standards is the responsibility of the Department of Education. After that review, the academic standards go to the Education Roundtable and finally to the State Board for adoption. The resolution was ruled improper because it used CECI staff in a manner that violates Indiana law.

I have said previously that I will not tolerate violations of the law, be they open door violations or improper motions. The public demands nothing less.

I have requested an advisory opinion from the Attorney General on the improper motion that was brought during today’s meeting. I look forward to receiving his opinion and continuing to work with all Hoosiers to strengthen public education for our children.

Thankfully, there were some good things that came from today’s meeting. We took an important first step towards overhauling our broken A-F system. I also felt like members of the Board were engaging in substantive debate. Unfortunately, the improper resolution brought all of that to a halt.

I gave the board multiple opportunities to fix their resolution and make it legal. I then suggested that the improper resolution be tabled while we consult with the Attorney General. Unfortunately, certain members of the Board refused any compromise.

The conduct of some members and the Governor’s CECI staff made it impossible for us to move forward with our business. Because of this, I was left with no choice but to adjourn the meeting.

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