Superintendent Cindy Hill and her leadership team. From left, they are Kevin Lewis, John Masters, Cindy Hill, Christine Steele, Sam Shumway and Sheryl Lain. (Gregory Nickerson/WyoFile — click to view)

Wyoming Supreme Court denies rehearing in Cindy Hill case

By Gregory Nickerson
— February 28, 2014

The Wyoming Supreme Court has denied a petition from state Attorney General Peter Michael for a rehearing on the case that struck down Senate File 104. The action sends the case back to district court to provide further guidance to the legislature on how to proceed.

The denial comes a month after the court’s original decision on the matter. In a 3-2 vote, the justices ruled that the 2013 law violated the Wyoming Constitution by transferring too many duties of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to an appointed director.

In the letter sent by the court today, Justice James Burke rebuked the state for its concerns over disruption caused by the court’s decision, noting the state had no apparent concern for disruption to the Superintendent. He also saw no need to provide further guidance that the state requested:

“With all due respect to the dissent, we have already provided all of the guidance requested by the district court when we answered the certified questions in our original opinion. We do not see anything ‘unfair’ or ‘improper’ about returning this case to the district court where this action is pending.”

Chief Justice Marilyn Kite offered a dissenting view:

“Contrary to the manner in which the majority chooses to handle this matter, this Court should follow the precedent established in the long line of school finance cases by providing parameters for the district court and the legislature to use in determining which powers and duties may appropriately be transferred from the office of superintendent of public instruction and which powers and duties may not be transferred.”

In a separate action earlier today, the Senate Education committee confirmed Richard Crandall as director of the Wyoming Department of Education. He was appointed to the position last summer by Gov. Matt Mead, but waited to be confirmed until the 2014 legislative session.

Earlier this week, the Senate passed Senate File 106 which would provide for a process to reconsider the role of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in light of the court’s January 28 decision. That bill passed the House Education Committee today and will be considered on the House floor during the last week of the budget session. If the bill passes, the legislature will likely convene a special session later this spring regarding the matter.

 Supreme Court Letter

— Gregory Nickerson is the government and policy reporter for WyoFile. He writes the Capitol Beat blog. Contact him at greg@wyofile.com.

SUPPORT: If you enjoy WyoFile’s 2014 coverage of the Wyoming Legislature and would like to see more quality Wyoming journalism, please consider supporting us. WyoFile is a non-partisan, non-profit news organization dedicated to in-depth reporting on Wyoming’s people, places and policy.
 
REPUBLISH THIS STORY: For details on how you can republish this story or other WyoFile content for free, click here.

Gregory Nickerson

Gregory Nickerson worked as government and policy reporter for WyoFile from 2012-2015. He studied history at the University of Wyoming. Follow Greg on Twitter at @GregNickersonWY and on www.facebook.com/GregoryNickersonWriter/

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Want to join the discussion? Fantastic, here are the ground rules: * Provide your full name — no pseudonyms. WyoFile stands behind everything we publish and expects commenters to do the same. * No personal attacks, profanity, discriminatory language or threats. Keep it clean, civil and on topic. *WyoFile does not fact check every comment but, when noticed, submissions containing clear misinformation, demonstrably false statements of fact or links to sites trafficking in such will not be posted. *Individual commenters are limited to three comments per story, including replies.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Assuming lawmakers get their way, and succeed in arming the state’s teachers to the teeth……Will Ms. Hill still be commander-in-chief of this rag-tag militia, or will we have to “sub-contract” those duties too????? “Just askin’…….”