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Mead launches inquiry into Hill practices, says action was legal

Feb 20, 2013 - The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- Lawyers for the State of Wyoming say the Legislature acted within its authority to pass a law removing schools Superintendent Cindy Hill as head of the state Education Department.

Hill has filed a lawsuit challenging the law as unconstitutional. Attorneys for the state responded to the lawsuit Tuesday.

District Judge Thomas Campbell will hear arguments in the lawsuit March 14.

Hill is seeking a preliminary injunction, which the state is resisting.

The law, which took effect in January, replaced the superintendent as administrator of the education agency with a director appointed by the governor.

Lawmakers and Mead said the law was necessary to put Wyoming's education reform efforts back on track and restore order to the Education Department. Hill has defended her administration of the agency.

Gov. Matt Mead, meanwhile, has launched an inquiry into operations at the state Department of Education.

The inquiry will look at concerns raised by agency employees about human resources, budget and other issues. The inquiry by a four-member panel will be led by Cathy MacPherson, a longtime Wyoming attorney in Rawlins.

Superintendent Cindy Hill was removed as head of the Education Department in January by a law enacted by the Legislature this session. She has been replaced by a temporary director appointed by Mead.

Lawmakers took the step after finding that Hill was not being cooperative in implementing education reforms enacted by the Legislature. In addition, Mead and some lawmakers have noted complaints and concerns from agency employees about how the agency was run under Hill.

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