In a crowded room, Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett stepped down from his role amid recent allegations of grade rigging.
“It’s not fair to the children in Florida that I continue as commissioner and deal with the distractions,” said Bennett.
Bennett changed the grade of a charter school run by a Republican donor while he was Indiana’s school chief. All together 13 schools had their grade changed. Bennett says it was to make sure schools were being graded accurately.
“They were unfairly penalized for kids that they didn’t have in their school, that wasn’t rigging anything.”
Published reports show Bennett and his Indiana staff making sure the donor’s charter school received an A, instead of the C it originally earned.
After the news surfaced, leaders from across the state urged Bennett resign.
“You can’t have a system of integrity when you change the rules and move the goal posts to suit a particular school,” said Allsion Tant.
The Florida Education Association wouldn’t go on camera, but released a statement saying: “The resignation of Florida’s latest commissioner of education is another symptom of the mistrust parents, teachers and the public have in the state’s incoherent and unsound school reform and accountability policies.”
Bennett says people in Florida and Indiana should keep faith in how schools are graded.
“The school grades in Florida were incredibly public. Even though this is not your question, no one in Indiana should be concerned about school grades either,” said Bennett.
Bennett was the fifth person to serve as Education Commissioner since Governor Rick Scott took office 2 and a half years ago.
A formal announcement has not been made on who will replace Bennett. Although the state board of education will recommend K-12 Chancellor Pam Stewart as Interim Commissioner.