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Rift Between Ritz, State Education Board Expands
Updated August 8, 2014 7:34 AM | Filed under: Education
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(UNDATED) - The rift between the State Board of Education and the State Superintendent likely isn't going away. But the superintendent says the problems have less to do with the board and more to do with the agency that staffs it.

Speaking publicly for the first time since Wednesday's board meeting where she first revealed to the board a ten-month-old settlement with the maker of ISTEP, Superintendent Glenda Ritz said there was no reason for her to talk to the board about her office's negotiations with CTB/McGraw-Hill because of the division of powers between them.

She says that settlement was attached to the 2014-15 contract, which is going through the (review) process. Ritz offered the same line of reasoning on why reporters were told her department was still working on the settlement, even though it was signed in October 2013.

Left unsaid was whether Ritz may have withheld the information from the board due to the influence of the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI). When the agency was created by Governor Pence in August 2013, the staff for the state board was shifted from Ritz's department to CECI.

While the superintendent would not say whether CECI's influence caused her to withhold information about the ISTEP settlement, Ritz does not hide her mistrust of the agency and its influence on the board.

"From my perspective, CECI is aiming for complete oversight in the implementation of policy from the Department of Education. It's been no secret that I feel that way, and that's what's happening."

Brad Oliver doesn't feel that way about CECI. Oliver was appointed to the state board by Governor Pence in June 2013 and has frequently complained about finding out information from Ritz and her department shortly before the board is due to take action.

Most recently, Oliver and other board members believed Ritz and her department avoided telling the rest of the board about objections raised by the U.S. Department of Education to Indiana's waiver from certain No Child Left Behind requirements.

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