Some employees eye exits as Cindy Hill returns to Wyoming Education Department

2014-04-23T08:00:00Z 2014-04-28T07:08:08Z Some employees eye exits as Cindy Hill returns to Wyoming Education DepartmentBy LAURA HANCOCK Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
April 23, 2014 8:00 am  • 

CASPER, Wyo. — A handful of people have resigned from the Wyoming Department of Education and more resignations could be coming, said the man who ran the department until Superintendent Cindy Hill took over again on Monday.

Rich Crandall, the governor-appointed director of the department, said he is not at liberty to say which employees have resigned from the department.

Crandall became director of the department last summer, after the law previously known as Senate File 104 stripped from Hill control over the WDE. The Wyoming Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional on Jan. 28.

Some administrators left after the Supreme Court decision, such as David Holbrook, who was a division director at WDE.

Others continue to work at the department, with offers in hand from other employers, waiting to see how the environment will be at WDE now that Hill is in charge, Crandall said.

“I wrote about 10 letters of recommendation over the past couple of weeks,” Crandall said. “I know people who have offers on the table, or multiple offers on the table.”

About 141 people work for the WDE, he said.

Some WDE staffers left to work for private companies, Crandall said.

Holbrook resigned Feb. 27. He was director of the department’s division that handles most of the federal grants that come in from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Holbrook wasn’t actively looking for a new job. But he was open when an opportunity was presented, he said.

Holbrook said he participated in a report assembled last year by Rawlins lawyer Cathy McPherson as directed by Gov. Matt Mead. The McPherson report described possible misuse of the state airplane, alleged improper spending of federal money and employee complaints of a hostile workplace.

Holbrook did not participate in legislative hearings on Hill’s performance as state superintendent earlier this year, he said. The Wyoming Legislature and Hill have disagreed for years over her desire to make Department of Education employees able to be fired without cause, high turnover at the WDE under her watch and her implementation of the Legislature’s accountability system.

The Casper Star-Tribune tried reaching out to five other WDE staffers who were rumored to have left. The newspaper sent messages via Twitter and email. Messages either went unanswered or bounced back as undeliverable.

WDE spokesman Travis Hoff said he could not speak about the resignations. The department will send out a press release about it at some point, he said.

“But Cindy has made it very clear to me that she, both as a gubernatorial candidate and as superintendent, will not be speaking with the Casper Star-Tribune,” he said.

The Star-Tribune asked Hoff to answer the questions instead of Hill. Hoff declined.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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