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Fla. education commissioner to resign over Indiana school grade change scandal

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Updated: 8/01/2013 1:28 pm
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A Florida education official says the state's education commissioner will resign because of allegations he changed a charter school's grade during his previous job as Indiana's school chief.

The official told The Associated Press of Tony Bennett's resignation on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to disclose the information before a formal announcement. The official says Bennett will resign because of the scandal surrounding Christel House Academy, an Indiana charter school run by a major Republican donor.

Emails published by the AP this week show Bennett and his Indiana staff scrambled last fall to ensure Christel DeHaan's school received an "A," despite poor 10th grade algebra scores that initially earned it a "C."

Bennett lost his re-election bid last November in Indiana. He was hired by Florida in December.

Florida State Board of Education Chairman, Gary Chartrand, released this statement:

“Tony demonstrated great leadership transitioning Florida to new state standards – and he worked tirelessly during his tenure to provide students and teachers with the tools they needed to succeed. I thank him for his hard work and the support that he and Governor Scott have provided to educators and students across the state. In order to continue the success that Tony facilitated, it is my intention to convene a State Board of Education call tomorrow to recommend that the board appoint our K-12 Chancellor Pam Stewart as Interim Commissioner.”

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Previous story: Resignation Urged after Grading Flap

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- School accountability supporters are seeking more scrutiny of Indiana's "A-F" school grading system after an Associated Press story revealed former schools chief and current Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett orchestrated changes to ensure a top GOP donor's school received a high mark.

Indiana schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz said Tuesday the Department of Education is examining the current grade calculations "to ensure that every school has the grade they earned in 2012." Senate President Pro Tem David Long called for an annual third-party audit of the grades to restore public confidence in the system.

National school accountability expert Jim Stergios says Bennett violated the trust of parents and students and should resign in Florida.

Bennett denies wrongdoing and says the formula change wasn't directed solely at the Christel House Academy.
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RiverRat - 8/1/2013 10:02 AM
1 Vote
Although there is plenty or room for improvement in public schools, unaccountable charter schools are not the answer. This only proves that Charter School advocates will push their agenda at any cost, even fraud.
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