A law that stripped most of the power from Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill left the state’s public education system in “complete chaos,” she argues in her latest court filing.

Hill’s removal as head of the Wyoming Department of Education bred confusion and distrust across Wyoming, she wrote in an affidavit describing events since her ouster last month. The embattled superintendent wants a judge to restore her powers until a court can fully consider the law.

Through her attorney, Hill insisted a judge should act quickly to prevent further harm to students.

“Most importantly, Superintendent Hill’s ability to do the job she was elected to do generally supervise Wyoming’s public schools is irreparably damaged and harms Wyoming’s children, who the Legislature and the Governor have willingly sacrificed as part of the obvious politics, gamesmanship and quest for power embodied in (the law),” Hill attorney Angela Dougherty wrote.

Last month, Hill sued Gov. Matt Mead, claiming the law he signed that largely stripped her office of powers violated the state Constitution. Hill has since announced her attention to run for governor in 2014.

The Wyoming attorney general is defending Mead against the suit. The state’s attorneys maintain the Legislature acted within the scope of its constitutional powers when it transferred many of the superintendent’s duties to a director appointed by the governor.

Jim Rose, the interim education director appointed by Mead, said Hill’s characterization of chaos and confusion didn’t fit with the feedback he’s received from educators.

“The ones who are talking to me have been supportive and complimentary of our efforts,” he said.

Rose said he’s tried to make himself available to local school officials. He’s communicated with district superintendents and has been trying to follow legislative directives.

“We are doing our level best to make this transition as open and as inclusive as possible, and involve all of the stakeholders we can possibly engage,” he said. “It is going to take some time.”

Lawmakers passed the so-called “Hill Bill” after repeatedly sparring with her during her two years in office. They said workers complained about an “atmosphere of secrecy and intimidation” under Hill’s leadership.

Hill has depicted her legislative critics as “good old boys” who were upset by her reform efforts within the education department. In her latest filing, she suggested her efforts to end wasteful contracts led to resentment from interests within the state agency.

Her attorney did not respond to a message left Monday.

After the bill became law, Hill and a handful of her employees moved out of the education department and into their own office. She must now communicate with department employees through an appointed liaison.

The arrangement has created confusion among school district and the public, she indicated in her affidavit.

“Previously, the superintendent was always the point of contact for the public’s questions, concerns and issues,” Hill wrote in her affidavit. “That communication no longer exists.”

The liaison is a requirement under the law that created the appointed education director, noted Mead spokesman Renny MacKay.

“The legislation recognizes that having a point person would help ensure the superintendent and the board (of education) get all information necessary to carry out their respective duties,” he said in an email.

Hill also contends there has been a systematic effort to isolate and replace employees that she recruited. She claims her public information officer “was terminated” day after testifying, on his own time, against the bill.

MacKay said the position was not eliminated, but rather transitioned over to the superintendent’s office.

A Laramie County district judge has scheduled a hearing for next week to consider Hill’s request for a preliminary injunction.

Contact Joshua Wolfson at 307-266-0582 or at josh.wolfson@trib.com. Visit http://trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/wolfjammies to read his blog. Follow him on Twitter @joshwolfson.

(12) comments

Pigdog
Pigdog

I think the correct headline would be: Hill's election causes chaos in Wyoming schools system.

Sassy
Sassy

How can you say that Pig

Old Troupadour
Old Troupadour

The R Circus is alive and well, R's will eat there young, Go R's Go!
Old Troupadour

Asimms
Asimms

Pigdog, I loved your comment. Cindy Hills is totally wrong that the legislative action is creating havoc in schools. Today is no different that what has been happening since she took office or the legislative action. Schools will continue to move ahead with or without her. It is not about the adults but the children we are trying to educate.

btrfly
btrfly

As someone who works in one of our county school districts, I can say I've not heard anything but good things about this bill and the changes it allowed. Since Hill came into "power" anything we do with her office and things she touches have become so complicated and unwieldy that that causes problems for those of us trying to help our students. I'm ashamed that I voted for her!

Wyoite
Wyoite

Rose must be an idiot. How can things be going smoothly when nobody knows who is going to be their boss in a week or a month from now. The only thing certain is that Rose won't be their boss! He must have a department full of employees hedging that Cindy will return, be it via the courts, or as governor. How can that possibly be working out good for him and his department? Makes me wonder if he's oblivious, stupid, or just Polyannaish.

Thanks to Hank and the idiot up in Gillette, they have caused this complete chaos by invalidating the will of the people. I just wish Mead hadn't been suckered into this by Hank, he was doing a very respectable job. We need a Gov like him but he lost his compass and spit on our vote, the same vote that elected him. Oh well, let's see what 2014 brings.

Wyoite
Wyoite

I also am wondering what kind of idiot would apply for the full-time Superintendent position to be appointed by Mead, given that Cindy is running and Mead is non-commital, the position may be more temporary than ever. I'd be surprised if there are any currently employed candidates!

Why do people think a position appointed by an elected official will be any more stable than a position appointed vie elections??? Just look to the states where the governor appoints, the Superintendent is changed out with each new governor!

jackel
jackel

I wonder how the Wyoming people would feel about impeaching Coe and Mead? If I'm not mistaken the first pargraph of the Wyoming Constitution states the people have the right to change government. I wonder is that within the scope of Wyoming Constitution?
Any change will cause Chaos, so when the Wyoming people elected Hill, change did take place. Right or Wrong people of Wyoming voted for a Change. What about the people on the election board, they had a new Superintendent. I wonder was there any whinning going on in the good old boy network?
The points made by these comments have a right to be heard. Except one thing is truly overlooked by this mess, the votes of We the People. I would have to ask the Governor and Senator Coe Chaos is not changed by appointments, for an appointment is not change, but in all reality go along, or it is so-long.
Education is the biggest joke today in Wyoming, for the amount we spend and the investment. We are top heavy, to many school districts, and accountability will never be achieved by test scores or paper. The generations produced by teachers and professors which influence the minds are examples our nation will live or die upon. Right now Wyoming education is based off technology, visual education, but like all great advancements truth is found in solid facts and the proof is in the pupils mind. Right now as business owner our work force is lazy and hands on skills are dumder than box of rocks.

mcfromkc
mcfromkc

jackel,
Article 3, Section 17. Power of impeachment; proceedings.
The sole power of impeachment shall vest in the house of representatives; the concurrence of a majority of all the members being necessary to the exercise thereof. Impeachment shall be tried by the senate sitting for that purpose, and the senators shall be upon oath or affirmation to do justice according to law and evidence. When the governor is on trial, the chief justice of the supreme court shall preside. No person shall be convicted without a concurrence of two-thirds of the senators elected.

sorry, looks like you'll have to wait until the next election

A MOM 85
A MOM 85

WY schools are improving - but you can not really see what our kids are capable of doing just by looking at achievement tests - they are tough, stressful and don't accurately assess what our children know. Sadly, the powers that be - have put SO much weight on these tests, that our teachers must take significant time away from teaching what "we the people" think and want our kids to be taught - getting rid of Cindy Hill has caused major issues within school districts - don't let things fool you. Yes, the march goes on - day after day but this has and will have major impacts on your children! This is said with the knowledge that I didn't care for a lot of what C. Hill was doing either - but at least she wasn't violating our state constitution and going against what the people of WY want! Hats off to Platte County's Dan Kirkbride who was strong enough in his commitment to WY to vote as the people asked him too.

bobaloo
bobaloo

I agree with btrfly. As one who is an educator, things in my district are much better. That woman CREATED chaos and confusion. I don't think the general public realizes how bad it was.

Sassy
Sassy

Come on- bobaloo how can this change that happened a few weeks ago- improve your district overnight??? You must live in a bubble..........

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