INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The leading Democrats in the General Assembly want answers regarding the Tony Bennett grade changing scandal and they question whether the Inspector General can provide those answers.
Tony Bennett called for an investigation by the Indiana Inspector General at the same time that he resigned as education commissioner in Florida. Bennett, the former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, believes it will clear his name in the scandal that began when he directed his staff to justify a higher grade for the Christel House Academy.
But Democrats worry that Inspector General Dave Thomas doesn't have the authority to disclose findings that fall short of criminal acts. They want to know if Thomas finds evidence that the grading system was merely manipulated.
"The public has a right to believe that the integrity of the system is there," said Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, "and this raises an issue of the integrity of that system."
In response to a letter from Sen. Lanane and House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, Thomas confirmed to 24-Hour News 8 that his staff is conducting an investigation.
"Can't comment about the details of that," he said.
As to whether he has the necessary authority, Thomas said only that he doesn't respond to things like that.
"I take all submissions seriously," he said.
Lanane wants to know if Thomas needs help from the legislature.
"It would be to look at — how does he function right now?" said Lanane. "Does he need other powers? Does he need other authority?"
Senator Lanane says the Democrats have no desire to eliminate the Inspector General, an office that was created by former governor Mitch Daniels. Instead, he says, they want to make sure that Inspector General does an effective job in the Bennett case and in other cases as well.
State highway officials say an eight-mile section of Interstate 65 near Lafayette will be expanded to three lanes in each direction.
Crews from a northeastern Indiana fire department had to rush to put out a blaze at the home of their assistant chief.
State Road 39 re-opened in Boone County Friday morning following a crash.