K-12 and Department of Education and Education & Workforce Development

Indiana lawmakers launch review of school grading scandal

August 2, 2013

Indiana's top lawmakers are creating a task force to review the state's "A-F" school grading system following the revelation former state schools superintendent Tony Bennett changed the grading formula for a Republican donor's charter school.

Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long and Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma announced Friday the creation of an independent task force to review the school grading system. They noted their previous concerns with the school grading system, but Bennett's efforts detailed in emails obtained by The Associated Press raised new concerns for them.

"Since then, the issue has been brought to the forefront in negative ways and our concerns about the previous assessment system are increasing," Bosma and Long wrote in a letter Friday.

The two enlisted John Grew, a former aide to then-Democratic Gov. Frank O'Bannon, and Bill Sheldrake, the former head of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute, to review the grading system. The pair is expected to complete that before Labor Day.

Bennett resigned from his job as Florida's schools chief Thursday, a few days after emails were published about his efforts to change the school-grading formula for the Christel House charter school in Indianapolis.

Bennett attributed the revelation about the grades to political attacks from opponents and has maintained he did not grant special treatment to Christel House. The school's founder, Christel DeHaan, has also said she did not seek special treatment and the emails show no request on her part.

Democratic state schools superintendent Glenda Ritz says her office is conducting an internal review. Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, said he is waiting to see what Ritz's assessment uncovers before making any decisions.

"The most important thing we can do moving forward is to have an independent and fair assessment of the A-F school-grading process," Long said in a prepared statement Friday.

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