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Pence, Ritz meet, agree to seek help in dispute

Posted at 2:45 PM, Nov 27, 2013

 Indiana Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz is calling a meeting she had with Gov. Mike Pence a first step toward working out an ongoing power struggle, but says much more needs to be done.

Pence and Ritz issued a statement Wednesday saying they have agreed to have the National Association of State Boards of Education help mediate a talk among Indiana State Board of Education members regarding roles, responsibilities and the operations of the board.   Ritz, a Democrat, chairs the board, but Pence, a Republican, has appointment power over 10 of the 11 board seats.

Two weeks ago, Pence asked the national school boards group to step in, but Ritz said that would be meaningless unless Pence dealt directly with her. Pence made the request two days after Ritz walked out of a State Board of Education meeting when a Pence appointee tried to transfer certain student assessment powers from her office to a second education department created by the governor earlier this year.

Pence said he is pleased Ritz is willing to work with his administration.

"I also appreciate the Superintendent's willingness to work with members of the Indiana State Board of Education and NASBE to resolve differences that have arisen on the board," he said.

Ritz filed a lawsuit earlier this year against other board members, claiming they violated state law by going around her to shift calculation of the state's school grades from her office. The other members, a bipartisan group, said she had been dragging her feet in releasing the grades she has openly opposed.

A Marion County judge dismissed the lawsuit.