Former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett
(Tallahassee, Fla.) – Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett, formerly the state superintendent of public instruction in Indiana, has reportedly resigned from the post.
Bennett will resign in a Thursday morning press conference, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The news comes following an Associated Press report revealing Bennett may have worked to change the A-F letter grade assessment of an Indiana charter school founded by a Republican donor last year.
In the report published Monday, emails from Bennett to Indiana Department of Education staffers last September shows the former state superintendent said that a C grade for GOP donor Christel DeHaan’s Christel House Academy would be a “huge problem.”
“They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work,” Bennett wrote in one of the e-mails.
Further emails exhibited Bennett pushing for a change in the charter school’s grade, which was eventually upgraded to an A. An Indianapolis Star report claimed that two public schools in Indianapolis which were rated so poorly in the A-F scale that they were taken over by the state would have remained in local control if given the same treatment as Christel House.
Bennett lost the general election the following November to Democrat Glenda Ritz. In December, he was selected to lead the Florida Department of Education.
Bennett’s reported resignation comes a day after Indiana Governor Mike Pence defended Indiana’s A-F grading system, which is a factor in determining how much state funding a school district receives. Pence told the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette that the system is “an essential part” of accountability measures designed to improve state education in Indiana.
The governor added that the public must have confidence that the system is “fair and impartial.”