Governor Scott, school leader react to Bennett scandal

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The governor of Florida made his first comments Wednesday in reaction to the charge that Tony Bennett changed the school grade for a high profile charter school last year.

GOP Governor Rick Scott put Bennett in charge of Florida's education system earlier this year. Scott faced criticism for waiting to react to news that Bennett changed the grade for Christel House Academy from a C to an A. 

Florida Democrats want Bennett to resign and others suggest that the former state School Superintendent here in Indiana might hurt Scott's re-election chances next year. 

Scott spoke up on a visit to West Palm Beach.

"Tony Bennett's doing a great job," he said. "You know, he came down. He started in January. He's very focused on accountability."

In the meantime, at Christel House Academy, the news of a changed grade is still a source of surprise. Director Carey Dahncke says he was unaware until this week. E-mails uncovered by the Associated Press show that Bennett ordered his staff to rework data so that the charter school would get an A in his A-F grading system.

Now Bennett's replacement, Glenda Ritz, is promising to review last year's grades for every school.

Dahncke says he has no idea if the grade for Christel House will change. 

"You know, we want our school to be judged fairly," he said, "and have the same calculation applied to us as applied to any other school in our situation so, we welcome the review."

School founder Christel DeHaan declined our interview request but she and school leaders are clearly  concerned about the effect of the scandal on their reputations. When asked if he feels the school was brought into this unfairly," Dahncke said. "We feel like we're in the crossfire, yes."

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