Mead: Education Department inquiry to end this month

2013-04-30T22:30:00Z 2013-05-14T13:37:04Z Mead: Education Department inquiry to end this monthBy JOSHUA WOLFSON Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
April 30, 2013 10:30 pm  • 

CASPER, Wyo. — Gov. Matt Mead expects a team investigating concerns from workers at the Wyoming Department of Education will finish its work this month.

Mead did not give Cathy MacPherson, the attorney leading the inquiry, a deadline to complete the job, said Renny MacKay, the governor’s spokesman. But as of now, Mead anticipates the team will finish by the end of May.

The governor announced in February that he had assembled the team to hear concerns surrounding the Education Department. His office specifically cited issues related to human resources, operations and the budget.

MacKay said he didn’t know how many people have already been interviewed as part of the inquiry.

“We are still in the middle of this,” he said. “The governor wanted to make sure (MacPherson) was independent. So we won’t know what her process is until it’s over.”

MacPherson did not respond Tuesday to a message left at her law office.

Her team includes three people from state government with backgrounds in budgeting, audit and policy, MacKay said. He did not name them.

Mead revealed the inquiry about three weeks after signing a controversial law that removed most of the duties from the superintendent of public instruction and transferred them to a governor-appointed director. That included oversight of the education department.

Cindy Hill, who was the elected superintendent in 2010, filed suit against Mead, arguing the law violates the state constitution. The case is now before the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Hill and some of her staff have since moved out of the education department offices. She said Tuesday she is cooperating with the inquiry and preferred not to comment now on the process.

Jim Rose, whom Mead appointed as interim director of the Education Department, said he hasn’t been interviewed as part of the inquiry. But he said other employees at the agencies have spoken with the team.

“Individual staff members have been very cooperative, providing pertinent documentation and relating their individual experiences,” he wrote in an email to the Star-Tribune.

Star-Tribune staff writer Elysia Conner contributed to this report.

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