Former Indiana Schools Chief Reaches Ethics Violation Settlement
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Tony Bennett, the former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction defeated in the 2012 election, has reached a settlement on ethics charges.
Bennett, a Republican, faced a number of ethics allegations after leaving office in Indiana. He resigned as Florida’s education commissioner after the Associated Press published emails which showed Bennett may have ordered staffers to change the state’s school grading system in 2012 to benefit a GOP donor’s charter school.
In a settlement announced by Indiana Inspector General David Thomas Wednesday, Bennett admits to violating ethics laws when he used state resources for activities associated with his political campaign.
Bennett has also agreed to pay a $5,000 fine.
The inspector general’s report cleared Bennett of allegations that he altered the school grading system.
“We find it relevant that it appears that schools which were awarded higher adjusted grades received fewer funds as a result,” Thomas’ report said.
The settlement must still be accepted by the State Ethics Commission, which is scheduled to meet Thursday.
In a statement to The Indianapolis Star, Bennett said the inspector general’s announcement should bring the A through F grading scale matter “to a final, conclusive end.”
“However, I have agreed to pay a fine and accept responsibility for violations of (the Indiana Department of Education’s) electronic information policies,” Bennett said, adding that failure to implement the policies was no one’s fault but his own.