Indiana Constitution “Article 8 Section 8. There shall be a State Superintendent of Public Instruction, whose method of selection, tenure, duties and compensation shall be prescribed by law.”
When I examine proposed legislation my first stop is the Indiana Constitution because the whole of the contract between State government and the individual rests within the four corners of this document. All State authority must be authorized by this document.
Duties of the Superintendent are prescribed by legislation under the Indiana Constitution. All of the powers of this office are granted exclusively by law which can be changed by the General Assembly through legislation.
Are HB 1609 and SB 1 acts within the powers of the General Assembly?
HB 1609: “Synopsis: State Board of Education. Provides that the members of the state board of education shall elect annually a chairperson from the members of the state board.”
SB 1 :”Citations Affected: IC 9-14; IC 20-18; IC 20-19; IC 22-4.1.
Synopsis: State board of education governance. Makes changes to the composition of the state board of education (state board). Provides that the state board may hire staff and administrative support. Provides that the state board shall meet at least once every six months and at the call of the chairperson. Provides that the state board shall elect a chairperson annually from the members of the state board. Requires the chairperson to provide notice of a state board meeting and make the agenda for the state board meeting available on the state board’s and the department of education’s Internet web sites at least 14 days before the meeting. Provides that a member of the state board may submit a request to the chairperson to amend the agenda at least seven days before the state board meeting. Provides that if the chairperson does not respond or refuses to amend the state board’s agenda, the agenda may be amended to include the agenda item requested at the current or subsequent state board meeting with a majority vote of the state board.Provides that the state board may not take official action on an agenda item added at the current meeting until the next subsequent state board meeting.”
The Education Code Title 20 is extensive and I have found that the only power to approve policy lies within the State Board of Education to be determined by a majority vote of Members – including a vote by the Superintendent under authority granted by the General Assembly as a member of the State Board.
There does not appear to be any additional power granted to a chair than what is customary for the position, namely to open and conduct the meeting and file and notice the agenda, and conduct the meeting.
The public reason as to why there is such controversy and conclusion that the “power of leader” is being removed is going to vary probably depending on exactly how the power of a chairperson is perceived. GA Members and State Board Members have given comments both against and for the ability of Ritz to handle the meetings.
These bills accomplish the same end; to replace the automatic position of chairperson for the State Board of Education. Current law places the Superintendent of Public Instruction in that position. SB 1 and HB 1609 would allow every Member of the Board, which includes the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction, to have the opportunity to be elected the chairperson for the State Board of Education.