Embattled state Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill on Tuesday dismissed claims in a recent state report that indicate the Wyoming Department of Education misused federal funds under her watch and she inappropriately used a state airplane.
Hill also accused state officials of trying to "federalize Wyoming's education system" in a two-page media release emailed late Monday afternoon.
Curriculum in the state's public schools will ultimately be directed from a national level thanks to the "federalizing" of education in Wyoming if trends continue, Hill later said in a phone interview with the Star-tribune.
“We’ll lose control over what the kids learn,” she said. “School boards should determine that. But it will be determined at a national level.”
In the release, Hill also criticized Senate File 104, which stripped her of most of her duties. It passed the Wyoming Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Matt Mead in January.
Hill said she was in a position to stand up to the federal government but lawmakers and state officials wanted her out of the way.
She wrote that a new set of federal standards called Common Core were adopted in 2012 by the state Board of Education and will move Wyoming "toward a common curricula, common assessments, data collection, and ultimately standardization of education by the federal government.
"I worry this will grow federal and state government and be expensive to taxpayers."
As for the Wyoming Department of Education inquiry released last week, Hill said the report doesn't even address the spurious claims raised by a few legislators to push forward SF104. She said the allegations that deadlines were missed and accountability requirements were ignored and that improper professional development activities authorized by law were improperly continued were inaccurate.
Lawmakers who read Monday's media release from Hill dismissed it.
The Legislature's Select Committee on Education Accountability wants to keep education in the hands of the Wyoming people, said Rep. Tim Stubson, R-Casper.
“None of the lawmakers in my circle want to federalize anything,” he said.
Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau said Hill’s statement wasn't on point.
Asking somebody to follow the law and to use funds in the matter in which they’re appropriated by state lawmakers has nothing to do with the federal government, he said.
“(The release) is just lip service to a base,” he said. “Nothing in that report had anything to do with federalizing schools in Wyoming and education in Wyoming. What it talked about was abuse of employees and misuse of funds and creating an apparently hostile and dangerous work environment.”