Mead is confused why Hill won't return to Education Department

2014-04-10T06:37:00Z 2014-04-28T07:08:08Z Mead is confused why Hill won't return to Education DepartmentBy LAURA HANCOCK Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
April 10, 2014 6:37 am  • 

CASPER, Wyo. — Gov. Matt Mead said Wednesday he is confused why Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill will not accept the state’s offer to return to the Wyoming Department of Education.

“Her narrative has been we’re stopping her from getting over there,” Mead said on Wednesday during a news conference. “For her to reject that offer has been puzzling, to say the least.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, Hill’s attorney Robert DiLorenzo told the Star-Tribune that Hill stands by her assertion that she can’t return to the Education Department under the state’s conditions.

“What they’re doing, to me, is playing a kind of game and they want her to negotiate the Constitution,” he said.

Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael on Monday filed court documents saying Hill should return to the Education Department, after the Wyoming Supreme Court found unconstitutional a 2013 law that stripped from Hill control over the Wyoming Department of Education. But the state’s letter said there were five provisions separate from last year’s law that the courts should decide, matters such as whether Hill should prepare a report on the general status of public schools for the Legislature.

On Tuesday, Hill sent a letter to Mead saying the state’s constitution was not negotiable. “Now, in a strange turn of events, you are asking me to return to the Department of Education, but with only a portion of the duties of the office restored,” the letter said.

At the Wednesday news conference, Mead told reporters he didn’t understand why Hill wouldn’t want to return to the department and let the court settle the five provisions.

“It’s a bit confusing to me. It was how many days or weeks ago when she marched over to the Department of Education, I guess to make a point she needed to be let in?” he said.

Mead was referring to a March 10 appearance at the department. Hill greeted supporters but went no further than the receptionist’s desk while two of her staff members met behind a closed door of Richard Crandall’s office. Crandall is the appointed department director who was hired after the Legislature passed the 2013 law. Hill left shortly after.

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