By Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana Department of Education officials said Tuesday that they expected to hear about concerns with the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver last fall, but federal monitors delayed releasing the report until last month without explanation.

Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz said Indiana originally was promised the report 45 days after U.S. Department of Education monitors flew to the state last August. She also said her department has been working hard since she took office to implement the waiver, which was crafted by former Superintendent Tony Bennett, whom she defeated in November 2012.

“Did the department know we had work to do? You betcha,” she said Tuesday. “We were told we were going to get this in October.”

However the report was delivered last month, catching many in the state off guard. A spokeswoman for U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.

Federal education officials alerted the state that its waiver may be in jeopardy because of problems monitoring low-performing schools and conducting teacher evaluations, as well as the state’s decision to withdraw from Common Core.

News that the waiver might be in jeopardy surprised many members of the State Board of Education, who called for a special meeting to grill the Department of Education. Board members, appointed by the state’s last two Republican governors, put Ritz, a Democrat, under the microscope Tuesday.

“I think the reason for this meeting is to figure out how this happened and how we can help get the Department of Education back on track,” said Gordon Hendry, a Democrat appointed to the board by Gov. Mike Pence. “Clearly there are issues within the department that need to be addressed. This isn’t a blame game, but we do need to resolve the issues. And we want to be clear that we’re disappointed that we found about this the way we did.”

Board members said Tuesday they were angry they did not find out about the concerns with the waiver until the report was delivered last month. But Ritz and her staff said they delivered updates to the board from last fall through this year.

The tense, hours-long meeting recalled some of the board’s recent battles centered on the power struggle between Ritz and Pence.

The state has until June 30 to submit an amended waiver to the U.S. Department of Education. Ritz has said she is confident the waiver will be maintained.

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