A select legislative committee has asked Gov. Matt Mead to release full copies of the MacPherson Report, an inquiry into alleged budgetary and behavioral misconduct in the Wyoming Department of Education while state Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill was its leader.
Lawmakers working on the committee say the redacted version of the report could be missing valuable information to help conduct the investigation that’s vetting the allegations Hill faces.
Rep. Mary Throne, D-Cheyenne, is leading one of the four subcommittees assigned by Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau, R-Gillette, to inspect the claims made in the report. Her subcommittee is investigating the personnel issues involving Hill, her staff and Education Department employees.
“I think we’re missing part of the story,” Throne said. “You’re reading along and then suddenly you have blanks. We need to have the full picture in order to be fair to everyone.”
Lubnau wrote a letter to Mead on Tuesday to express concerns about not having all of the information for the investigation.
He requested full copies of the MacPherson report and the more than 1,800 accompanying pages known as the “confidential” report on Hill. He also asked for all supporting documents and other materials submitted by the investigators who conducted the interviews and created the report.
“Some very serious allegations have been made about the superintendent,” Lubnau said. “As we try to dig down and find out what the truth of the matters are, this information — specifically with respect to conduct of personnel matters — is invaluable for digging for that truth.”
Hill was elected in 2010. She was stripped of many of her duties as superintendent as a result of Senate File 104, which Mead signed into law in January. The legislation created a director of the Department of Education, who is appointed by the governor. Hill said giving the redacted information to legislators could set a damaging precedent.
“The right of the confidentiality of these individuals must be taken seriously,” she said. “I am concerned that state employees’ confidential information is being made public and their rights are being breached.”
No official decision has been announced, but Mead’s office likely will have to disclose the information to the lawmakers.
“The Governor, under the Duty of Agency Officers’ statute, appears to be required to turn over these documents to the Legislature,” Mead spokesman Renny MacKay wrote in an email to the Star-Tribune. “This request is not a public records request and Governor Mead is conferring with the Attorney General’s Office about it.”
Lubnau is not on a subcommittee, but he is overseeing the investigations. The four subcommittees were assigned at the committee’s first meeting last week.
The 185-page MacPherson report came under question by lawmakers when Mead’s office released it publicly in June, because the “confidential” report including more than 1,800 pages wasn’t included. State investigators were concerned about sensitive information going public after they had conducted more than 70 interviews with officials in the Wyoming Department of Education and other state employees about Hill’s tenure in the department.
The “confidential” report of 1,800 pages contained accusations that employees suffered stress-related health problems while working under Hill and claims that Hill touched them in ways that felt uncomfortable.
Former state Attorney General Greg Phillips approved the release of the more than 1,800 pages in late July but required that some of its information be redacted.
The Legislature’s Management Council has since empaneled the committee to investigate the allegations.
Questions about impeachment have surrounded the committee process from its inception. If the committee finds that there is enough information to move forward with impeachment, the Legislature could call a special session where the House would vote on whether the Senate should conduct an impeachment trial.