The Herald Bulletin

October 29, 2013

Editorial: State board action is akin to bullying

The Herald Bulletin

---- — Indiana recently enacted tougher guidelines on addressing issues of bullying in schools.

Now it’s time to address the bullies running the State Board of Education. The Republican-appointed board is being accused of violating the Open Door Law and holding a private meeting. Ten of the board members signed a letter to GOP legislative leaders asking them to get the Legislative Services Agency to figure the A-F school grades.

The accuser? Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz who said she was unaware of their action — which came about by the board members circulating emails. Such action should have been taken in public — if at all. The board’s letter puts the Legislative Services Agency, which tries to remain neutral in its research and work, into a political battle that has been brewing since Ritz took office.

Ritz, a Democrat, has seen many of her efforts receive short shrift from the 11-member board; 10 are appointed by the Republican governor although no more than six can be from the same party. The board is responsible for overseeing state education policy-making. Ritz serves as a member and chairs the board.

Ritz, on the other hand, was elected because voters grew tired of Tony Bennett’s policies. Now, the state board isn’t even acknowledging Ritz’s hopes of re-evaluating Bennett’s actions. The board bullies Ritz, and that should never happen — even in political realm.

And it became political the moment board members sent their request, which went to House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne.

In response, Ritz filed a lawsuit against the 10 board members.

In the wake, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller asked a judge to dismiss Ritz’s lawsuit saying Ritz had no authority to file the suit.

This back-and-forth badgering should be beneath those who handle the direction of education for Hoosiers.

Passing a letter secretly via email is akin to teenage gossip-mongers who pass along rumors via social media. The board’s behind-the-back activity may sound like political gamesmanship to those in the Statehouse.

But to the rest of us, it is as close to adults bullying one another as it gets.

In summary A behind-the-back letter from the State Board of Education is similar to bullying.