Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, offered an amendment to get Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita “out of the education business.” (Photo/Indiana House Democrats)

By Marilyn Odendahl

The Indiana Citizen

February 27, 2024

An amendment banning Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita from operating his Eyes on Education website or any similar online portal failed in the Indiana House on Monday after getting blocked from a vote on procedural grounds.

Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, offered the amendment to Senate Bill 211, claiming the provision would keep the attorney general “from interfering with our schools.”

The amendment would have required the Indiana Department of Education to take on the task of establishing and maintaining a website with a portal for parents and residents in any school corporation to submit complaints or comments about Indiana schools. Also, the local school board would handle any investigation into complaints against teachers.

“The purpose of this amendment is to establish that the publication and investigation of complaints against classroom material or teachers is (the) territory of the Indiana Department of Education,” DeLaney said in a statement following the failure of his amendment. “Our Attorney General has a habit of expanding his authority into matters that he has no place in. This provision would keep him from interfering with our schools.”

The attorney general’s office did not respond to a request for comment about DeLaney’s amendment.

Launched Feb. 5, the Eyes on Education portal, which can be accessed through the attorney general’s website, allows anyone to anonymously submit “objectionable” classroom materials and school policies from Indiana elementary, middle and high schools as well as colleges and universities. The submissions that have been posted to the website overwhelmingly focus on race and gender identity. Currently, the portal includes posts ascribed to just 13 of the nearly 300 school corporations in the state, mostly in Central Indiana, as well as the Indiana University School of Medicine.

On the website, the attorney general’s office says it will use its “investigative tools” to follow up on any submitted materials that may violate state laws. Also, when the site was unveiled, the attorney general’s office said responses from the schools would be posted, but, to date, nothing from the schools appears on the landing page.

SB 211, which DeLaney tried to attach his amendment to, is an education bill that covers a range of topics. In part, the bill allows schools to include internet safety in its curriculum and enables schools to remove disruptive students from a classroom.

On the House floor, DeLaney described his amendment as “designed to get everybody back on their own turf” and get the attorney general “out of the education business.”

Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, successfully challenged DeLaney’s amendment as not being germane to SB 211.

DeLaney’s failed amendment specifically prohibited the attorney general from operating the Eyes on Education portal and from doing any kind of investigating based on a submission through the site.

Instead, the amendment would have required the state Department of Education to establish and maintain a school complaint submission website. The DOE would not investigate but, rather, would forward any complaints or comments to the school corporation.

Then the school corporation would have 30 days to review the submission, investigate and respond.

 “This new ‘Eyes on Education’ website uses taxpayer money to go after teachers for unsubstantiated accusations of ‘spreading woke ideologies.’ Attorney General Rokita’s website puts Hoosier educators smack dab in the middle of yet another culture war and erodes freedom of speech in our public schools,” DeLaney said in the statement.

“The agency responsible for our education system is the Department of Education, not the office of the AG.”

Dwight Adams, a freelance editor and writer based in Indianapolis, edited this article. He is a former content editor, copy editor and digital producer at The Indianapolis Star and, and worked as a planner for other newspapers, including the Louisville Courier Journal.

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