Pelath Wants State to Speed Up Bennett Investigation

Oct 16, 2013

Indiana House Minority Leader Scott Pelath is raising questions about the speed of the state's investigation into former Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett's grade changing controversy.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says he sees no sense of urgency from the state Inspector General in the investigation into the school grade changing scandal involving former State Superintendent Tony Bennett.

Reports first surfaced in late July that former Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett altered school accountability letter grades in 2012 after an Indianapolis charter school – a favorite of Bennett’s team – would have received a mediocre rating. Multiple investigations have been launched into the matter, including one by the Indiana Inspector General.

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says he wants to know why the Inspector General hasn’t provided any answers on when those answers might be coming.  He notes that a review of the school grading system conducted by independent analysts at the request of Republican legislative leaders was completed in four weeks.  But Pelath says that review didn’t investigate motive.

“We heard about statistical modeling, we heard about bureaucratic pressures on the Department of Education, we heard about all the rush to get things done and all the commotion in the particular office,” Pelath said. “But why did they do it? Why did they pick the winner in advance?”

Governor Mike Pence says he won’t comment on the substance or progress of an ongoing investigation by the Inspector General’s office.

“I’m sure that they’re going to do their work in a thorough and fair-minded way and produce the kind of information that will allow us and policymakers to make the kind of decisions that will allow us to preserve and improve our A to F grading system,” Pence said.

Pelath says the grading system investigation needs to be the Inspector General’s primary focus and suggests the office may need more staff or authority to complete their work.