Senate passes bill to remove power from Ritz

Indiana School Superintendent Glenda Ritz answers a questions from the media following a state School Board meeting Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, in Indianapolis. After the board voted 9-1 to approve new school grade categories, Ritz abruptly adjourned the meeting when a Gov. Mike Pence appointee tried to transfer certain student assessment powers from her office to a second education department created by the governor earlier this year.(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The state Senate passed the bill Tuesday that takes power away from Glenda Ritz following an emotional debate.

The governor wants Glenda Ritz removed as chairman of the State Board of Education because, he says, there is dysfunction on the board and dysfunction was the word of the day in the state Senate.

GOP Governor Mike Pence sat down with reporters even before the state Senate began debating the bill that takes power away from Glenda Ritz, the Democratic state school superintendent.

He defended the plan.

“Hoosiers are going to see that it is the kind of reform,” said Pence, “that will contribute to improving the way that Republicans and Democrats on the State Board of Education are able to do their job.”

But Democratic leaders in the state Senate see it as a partisan attack on one of their own.

“This dysfunction, it’s manufactured,” said Minority Leader Tim Lanane. “It’s a manufactured dysfunction that’s being thrown out there to convince someone that we have to act. We can’t wait.”

Republicans held firm.

“It is not working correctly,” said Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek.) “Manufactured dysfunction? There is nothing manufactured about the problems we’ve read about in the newspaper.”

But when the vote was tallied, seven Republicans joined the Democrats to vote against the bill, which passed 33-to-17.

One Democrat predicted that nothing will be solved.

“And then your going to take away the one thing that she got automatically which is chairmanship,” said Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis,) “and then you want her to be cooperative. That’s going to cause more dysfunction.”

And, worth noting, the vote took place on the day after a teacher rally in support of Glenda Ritz.

Both the House and Senate have now passed separate versions of the bill that takes power away from Glenda Ritz.

The bills will swap houses and the process starts over in the second half of the General Assembly, but there appear to be no roadblocks in the way.

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