Battle over the board; lawmakers debate role of Glenda Ritz

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 30, 2015) - Indiana schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz is watching as state lawmakers vote to evaporate her power.

The Indiana House Education Committee approved a bill Thursday that would allow the State Board of Ed. to elect its own chair, effectively removing Ritz from that post.

Democrats though are claiming republicans on the committee are way out of bounds.  Asserting that Glenda Ritz was elected by the public, a public democrats claim, that wants her to remain as Chair.

But with Ritz having walked out on meetings and engaged in screaming matches with fellow board members, it's all led to legislators rethinking her role.

“I knew a year and a half ago that I would be before this General Assembly regarding this political issue,” said Ritz, addressing the House Education Committee on Thursday.

The issue she spoke of is having the State Board of Ed. Chair elected by board members. Currently, Ritz as the elected State Superintendent holds that post automatically. She is the sole state-wide elected democrat fighting for survival in a state house of republicans.

“Indiana chose to have its highest ranking elected authority on education to be the chair and the 2012 elected Superintendent should be afforded this role,” she said.

The House Education Committee signed off on a bill Thursday that would allow the board to elect their own Chair.  In an effort Republicans claim to clean up the controversy and dysfunction that has plagued the State Board of Ed.

“It’s certainly bipartisan that we need to bring some of the in front of the scenes and behind the scenes pointless disagreements to a close and the best way to do that is to allow the board to elect its own chair,” said State Rep. and Speaker of the House, Brian Bosma (R – Indianapolis).

The issue took a partisan turn Friday with democratic leaders claiming republicans are out of line; imposing limits on a position elected by the public.

“It just amazes me that those who have been given so many opportunities to govern Indiana and to shape policy are so paranoid about the presence of this one lone dissenter in their midst. Let her do her job and let the voters decide,” said State Rep. and Minority Leader, Scott Pelath (D – Michigan City).

The bill will be heard by the house next week and with a republican super majority there, it is likely to pass.