School & District Management

Wyo. State Schools Chief Has Authority Slashed

By Andrew Ujifusa — February 05, 2013 1 min read

In a move that pits Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill against the rest of state government, Gov. Matt Mead has signed legislation that effectively removes Ms. Hill from overseeing the state’s public schools, and transfers her duties to a new director that Mr. Mead appointed Jan. 29.

In response, Ms. Hill showed up at the press conference Mr. Mead had called that same day to discuss the bill he signed—and she and her attorney served him with a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of his decision, which essentially reduces Ms. Hill’s position to a ceremonial one, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. (Ms. Hill and Mr. Mead are Republicans elected in 2010.) Ms. Hill said Jan. 31 she would run for governor in 2014.

Recently, state lawmakers have been sharply critical of how Ms. Hill has managed the development of the state’s new accountability system and other aspects of public education in Wyoming. An independent audit released late last year purported to show numerous problems with how Ms. Hill was implementing the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act, signed into law last year by Mr. Mead. Eventually, Ms. Hill denied the audit’s allegations.

Ms. Hill later had a confrontational meeting with lawmakers on a select committee about the audit’s findings. A committee member, GOP Sen. Hank Coe, accused Ms. Hill of campaigning for his write-in opponent in the November election. Mr. Coe is chairman of the Senate education committee, and authored the bill Mr. Mead signed.

The new director of education in the state, Jim Rose, who has led the Wyoming Community College Commission, will have power over the entire education department, with Ms. Hill relegated to ceremonial positions on state boards and commissions.

Mr. Mead said the state attorney general has told him the legislation does not violate the state constitution.

Ms. Hill fired back by saying the legislative branch of Wyoming government has run amok, and that the public only had limited input before the legislature passed the bill hastily.

A version of this article appeared in the February 06, 2013 edition of Education Week as State Chief in Wyo. Has Powers Slashed

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