CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill is rejecting an offer from the state attorney general to narrow the scope of a court case that has to be resolved before she can return to running the state education department.
“It’s not negotiable. The constitution’s not negotiable,” Hill said Tuesday.
Hill filed suit challenging a state law enacted last year that removed her as head of the state education department. The Wyoming Supreme Court ruled in January the law is unconstitutional.
Despite the high court ruling, Hill remains out of office while litigation continues in Laramie County District Court. The state attorney general’s office maintains that last year’s law remains in effect until the district court judge enters a formal judgment in the case.
Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael on Monday made a formal offer to Hill’s lawyer to stipulate that most of the law is unconstitutional. In exchange, Michael offered to allow Hill to return as head of the department while litigation over five minor issues continues.
Michael maintains that any provisions in last year’s law that aren’t unconstitutional should remain in force. He argues that the district court must still decide whether provisions such as requiring Hill to prepare a report on the status of public schools and holding regional teacher workshops should be allowed to stand.
Hill issued a press release Tuesday containing a letter she wrote to Gov. Matt Mead rejecting the offer to return to office immediately. Hill is running for governor as a Republican this year while Mead, also a Republican, has announced he’s seeking a second term. The attorney general is appointed by the governor.
“Since the Court’s ruling, you and your attorneys have consistently blocked my return to office and the restoration of my duties,” Hill wrote to Mead on Tuesday.
Renny MacKay, spokesman for Gov. Matt Mead, said Tuesday that Michael had noted in a recent court filing that the state is confronting an unnecessarily difficult question: “What will it take for the superintendent to agree to return to the Wyoming Department of Education?”
MacKay said Michael’s offer would have allowed Hill to return to the education department immediately.
“Those areas in which there is a difference of opinion could be argued and decided while the superintendent is in office. Those are five minor issues,” MacKay said in a written statement. “The superintendent needs to decide if she wants to return to the Department of Education now or after those questions are answered by the court.”