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February 06, 2014 11:57 am

Cindy Hill eager to get back in charge of Ed Department

Written by Tom Lawrence

Cindy Hill said she is eager to return to work as the director of the Wyoming Department of Education.

Hill, the elected superintendent of public instruction, was stripped of much of her authority by the Legislature and Gov. Matt Mead a year ago.

But she may soon be back in charge of the department.

On Jan. 28, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled the law that took away much of her authority was unconstitutional. No timeline for her return to full power has been set.

Hill, in a call to the Powell Tribune Tuesday, said she is waiting for the process to be completed. Mead has asked Attorney General Peter Michael to seek a new hearing before the court, and Hill said she will wait for a decision from the court on when she can resume her duties.

“I hope it is soon,” she said.

Hill, while noting that she is not a lawyer, said she isn’t sure the state will have much luck getting another hearing on the case before the state Supreme Court. Such a measure is “rarely requested,” she said, and “highly unusual.”

Hill said she feels the court’s decision was “good for the Constitution and good for the people of Wyoming” and affirms the rule of law and the people’s vote.

Hill said she wants to return to work. She said Richard Crandall, the former Arizona legislator who was brought in last summer to manage the department, needs to go, and should never have been given the job in the first place.

“Hiring him was unconstitutional,” Hill said. “It’d be like Arizona hiring (state Sen.) Hank Coe to lead their education department.”

Coe, a Cody Republican, has been an outspoken critic of Hill. He told the Tribune Monday he does not regret his vote to remove much of her power from her. Hill said she feels Coe has made several false statements.

“Mr. Coe has said a lot of things that aren’t true,” she said.

Coe was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

But Hill said she has no bad feelings for anyone and wants to work with people who have been opposed to her in the past. She said if she regains control of the Education Department, staffers need not worry about firings or repercussions.

“Of course not. Of course not. I have worked with everyone,” Hill said. “Anyone who is willing to work with me, I am willing to work with anyone.”

She said during the two years she was in charge of the department, only probationary employees who weren’t “the best fit” for their jobs didn’t retain their jobs. Hill said she has heard a report that some department employees were in tears when the court decision was announced.

“I understand that Mary Kay Hill (Mead’s deputy policy director and no relation to Cindy Hill) went over and started crying in front of the staff and some started to join her,” Hill said. “I wasn’t there, but I imagine that could have happened.”

Renny MacKay, Mead’s press secretary, said such a meeting did happen, with Mary Kay Hill and Kari Gray, the governor’s chief of staff, going to the department’s offices.

“The Governor’s Office was there to provide answers and information,” MacKay said in an email response to a Tribune question. “Emotions were running high, but according to Chief of Staff Kari Gray the conversation was fact based and informative.”

Although she has taken differing public stances on issues, including Common Core Standards, from Crandall, Hill said she isn’t ready to have the department make a dramatic change of course if she returns to full power.

“We have no information on what has taken place,” she said.

Education Department staffers were told not to speak with her or inform her on what was happening, so she said she would have to catch up on department business if she returns to work.

Hill said she is spending evenings and weekends running for governor. She is opposing Mead in the August primary, and said even with the court ruling, she is not interested in a second term as superintendent of public instruction.

“I’m running for governor,” Hill said. “And if you knew what I knew, you would run for governor, too.”

4 comments

  • Comment Link February 06, 2014 3:50 pm posted by clipstein

    What a disgrace. This Hill is controlled by her cronies. I seen this in action when she was running for office. Just what you need is someone in office who cannot make decisions for herself. Maybe her and Miss Cheney should get together.

  • Comment Link February 06, 2014 7:57 pm posted by Rose W

    I'm laughing at these people who comment on Cindy Hill, saying 'Oh, she's so bad', and 'I saw it during her campaign'. The onus is on the legislature and the governor. If she's so awful, bring impeachment and let the facts see the light of day, and let the people participate. I'm sick of the condescension of the state legislature. I'm happy the Wyoming Supreme Court called the legislature and the governor 'on the rug'. It's the right thing to do.

  • Comment Link February 07, 2014 10:02 am posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    With a Governor,and POTUS,appointing people to office,instead of electing them,soon elections won't mean anything.The entire Democratic process in America has went to the dogs,and it is WE THE PEOPLE who let it happen.

  • Comment Link February 09, 2014 8:45 am posted by c

    the fact is you elected her and her group. I did not and tried to inform people. maybe you ought to become informed before you vote. this is why the country is in the shape it is.

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