CHEYENNE — The Wyoming State Board of Education has decided to conduct a national search for a director to oversee the state Education Department.
A new state law stripped state schools Superintendent Cindy Hill as administrator of the department and replaced her with a director appointed by the governor. Under the law, the Board of Education will come up with three candidates for Gov. Matt Mead to choose from.
Mead addressed the board Monday and recommended the national search. The board voted to hire a search firm to help come up with the three finalists.
Hill is a member of the Board of Education. But she was not present when Mead spoke to the board.
"I would like to be left with the idea that there is no wrong person to choose," Mead said in a release after the meeting. "That is the merit of a national search. We need three extraordinary individuals."
Mead suggested that the process could be open after the finalists are chosen and that their identities could be made public. University of Wyoming trustees, who are looking for a new university president to replace outgoing President Tom Buchanan, have closed off their entire search process to the public.
Mead signed the law stripping Hill of most of her duties Jan. 29. The bill signing followed more than a year of tension between Hill and legislative leaders over the path of the Wyoming Department of Education and education reform in Wyoming.
Hill immediately filed a lawsuit challenging the new law.
The law gives Mead until Dec. 1 to name the department director. The board and governor plan to get a director in place much sooner if possible, Mead spokesman Renny MacKay said.
Mead has appointed Jim Rose, executive director of the Wyoming Community College Commission, to serve as interim director of the Education Department.