Legal experts weigh in on controversial Ritz lawsuit

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UPDATE: A Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit has been filed on behalf of board member Tony Walker.

The filing alleges that board members discussed the possibility of asking the Legislative Services Agency to assist in calculating grades at an October 2nd open board meeting.

“Superintendent Ritz not only served as Chairperson of that meeting, (she) participated in the discussion and welcomed the assistance of LSA,” that motion says.

A spokesperson for other board members tells Fox 59 they have also been in contact with the Attorney General’s office about the lawsuit.

INDIANAPOLIS – In a bold and unusual move this week, State Superintendent Glenda Ritz sued the Board of Education she herself chairs.

Fox 59 spoke to legal and political experts about the lawsuit, with each agreeing it appeared largely to be motivated by politics.

Paul Ogden, a lawyer who writes a political blog, saw the lawsuit as a calculated move by Ritz.

“My belief is it’s more about getting publicity in terms of what’s going on, than succeeding on the merits ultimately,” Ogden said.

The lawsuit stems from a letter sent by members of the Board of Education to legislative leaders last week. In it, members ask the legislators to step in when it comes to school accountability scores.

“We are now mid-way through October and the Department has yet to report 2012-2013 A-F grades or release teacher effectiveness ratings,” the letter said.

Department of Education Press Secretary, Daniel Altman, said the office is working on the grades and still needs more data from its testing company.

Altman said the issue was that the board took action outside any meeting, though board members contend they never sat down to meet.

“What we believe happened is that they took action outside of a meeting and without notice to either the public or the Superintendent herself,” Altman said.

In statements to Fox 59, several board members appeared dismayed by Ritz’s actions, stressing the need to work together.