State Department of Education loses power, seat on board after missing deadlines

Dec 12, 2012

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill addresses the Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability.
Credit Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

A legislative committee has voted to take responsibilities away from the State Department of Education and give them to the State Board of Education. 

After the department missed deadlines for developing a model that would measure education performance in the state, the Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability voted to give the State Board of Education charge of the model.  State Superintendent Cindy Hill was also stripped of her membership on the state board. 

Senator Hank Coe says they have lost confidence in their ability to work on school accountability issues with the State Superintendent.

“Clearly we took some stuff away from them today.  Get on the bus, or we will do something else,” says Coe “And this is a legislature that is committed to the accountability and education act.  It’s in law…we are going to make sure it gets done…and we are going to make sure it gets done properly.”

Despite being given 30 minutes to address a report saying that the Department of Education had missed important deadlines due to turnover and other issues, Superintendent Cindy Hill chose to discuss other issues and present a draft model that could measure accountability. 

Hill had publically challenged a Legislative Service Office report that was not complimentary of her office or its ability to accomplish legislative mandates.  She had demanded 30 minutes to discuss the issue before the Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability.  But instead of discussing the report, she talked about working together and urged lawmakers not to keep changing benchmarks for teachers. 

House Education Committee Chairman Matt Teeters was surprised, saying it was “unprecedented as a chairman for me to allow her to go ahead and come testify after failing to meet two deadlines.  But I was not going to be the one forced into silencing her.  And then she comes to the committee today and does not present any rebuttal!   I have not seen anything like it.  If somebody else has an answer to what happened today I’d be happy to hear about it.”

Senator Jim Anderson did like the tone of Hill’s remarks and hoped it would be a step in the right direction for future discussions.