(AP) State schools Superintendent Cindy Hill says a legislative investigation into her administration of the state Education Department is nothing more than an expensive piece of political propaganda.
Hill submitted a written response yesterday to a draft report released earlier this month by a special state House committee investigating whether she committed any impeachable offenses.
Hill says the investigation has produced, at best, an intentional and malicious slander, and at worst, the basest attempt at political assassination.
From the office of Cindy Hill:
An Open Letter to the People of Wyoming,
The draft report of the select investigative committee was publicly released, so I must respond publicly. Before responding, I want to briefly comment on an injustice worked against the people of Wyoming. I have always advocated for transparency and honest, careful review of government. A year ago when the investigative committee was formed, I sent Speaker Lubnau a letter requesting a transparent and fair process. As the committee was being staffed with SF104 supporters and legislators who had publicly and repeatedly slandered me, I worried that the legitimacy of the process would be questioned. On June 27, 2013, I wrote:
Without due process protections, I fear your process will disregard the truth and the evidence, and that your process will be viewed as a sham motivated by political reasons rather than honoring the Wyoming Constitution. As such, it will not be just and will be disrespectful not only to me but to Wyoming voters. I am attaching all of my correspondence to and from the committee as I believe it is the best evidence of how the process unfolded. Rest assured that had there been malfeasance, the legislative leadership would have moved to impeach or file criminal charges long ago. Instead, after multiple investigations, hearings, and audits, this committee is left in the same place Cathy MacPherson was more than a year ago – holding a bag full of innuendo, opinions, and a few hurt feelings. In the end, this process has cost the Wyoming taxpayer over a million dollars (see below spreadsheet) and produced what is, at best, an intentional and malicious slander, and at worst, the basest attempt at political assassination. Most troubling is that the committee allowed this process to languish until the height of a political campaign. This report must be seen for what it is: a very expensive piece of political propaganda. I have always resisted the effort on a part of a few legislators to usurp the powers vested by the people in their executive leaders. When the legislature passed an unconstitutional law, I successfully challenged it in the Wyoming Supreme Court. Recently I asked the state bar to look at the legal and ethical elements of this committee’s work because it seems to me improper for the attorneys who were involved to have acted against their professional code. The state bar will examine the actions of the committee members and draw its own conclusions about the process. Beyond that, I ask the public to critically review what happened here. We must assure ourselves and all future public officers that this type of political hack is never repeated. The people of Wyoming deserve better. I was not allowed even the most basic forms of due process. I was not provided counsel, I was not permitted to call witnesses, I was never given notice of the charges, I was not given access to evidence in the committee’s possession, I was not allowed to cross examine witnesses, and committee meetings were primarily held in secret. Even the release of the draft report was done in a way to deny due process. The committee adopted an 11th hour rule change so that I would not be able to comment on the report before it was released publicly. So I will comment now. The reader should be mindful that because the committee refused to hear from any of my witnesses, my response can only include what my witnesses would have said had they been interviewed by the committee’s attorneys or permitted to testify. After reading my response, if you have further questions or would like clarification, I invite you (the public, legislators, and anyone interested) to meet with my staff and me to discuss these issues. All questions can be answered and these issues resolved in an hour or two. I made this same invitation to the committee many times. Each time, I was ignored or rejected (see correspondence). It seems the committee was less interested in facts and more focused on other things . . . . Teacher to Teacher Had all witnesses been permitted to testify, and had the committee objectively examined the documents I provided, the report would reflect that professional development and technical assistance provided by the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) to districts was not only appropriate, but required by both state and federal law. Further, the report would reflect that the WDE was in full compliance with 2012 Wyoming Session Laws Chapter 26, Section 5. The evidence would also show that the WDE was always transparent and open in its communication with the legislature regarding its expenditures of funds for professional development and technical assistance. Management of WDE Financial Directives Had all witnesses been permitted to testify, and had the committee objectively examined the documents I provided, the report would have reflected that Paul Williams was paid only for time worked and that he provided invaluable service, saving the state in excess of $3,000,000. Further the report would reflect that Shan Anderson was highly qualified and performed important and valuable work for the state. The report would also state that appropriate action was always taken with regard to any such contracts. The report would show that Victoria Lesher was a highly qualified individual who provided valuable and appropriate service to the state in accordance with federal guidelines. Regarding the A-133 Audit, the report would show that during that period, WDE finances were carefully managed in accordance with all state and federal laws. Fremont #38 Had all witnesses been permitted to testify, and had the committee objectively examined the documents I provided, the evidence would have shown the WDE collaboration with Fremont School District #38 was an appropriate response to a request for technical assistance by a struggling district. This was not only an appropriate response, but it was a response directed by Chapter 6 of the Wyoming Department of Education Rules. Following Statues and Executive Branch Regulations and Legislative Directives Had all witnesses been permitted to testify, and had the committee objectively examined the documents I provided, the report would have reflected that the WDE met all deadlines and completed all assigned work related to the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act. The report would also reflect that the WDE fully complied with all state statutes and regulations regarding employee classification and positions and that all personnel policies and rules were always carefully followed, as the MacPherson Report concluded. If complete, the report would show that neither political nor personal loyalty was ever expected of any employee at the WDE. If all witnesses were allowed to testify the report would reflect that the descriptions of certain meetings were either grossly mischaracterized, or simply fabricated. My Testimony Before the Committee The report author(s) expresses opinions about my testimony before the committee. His/Her opinions are irrelevant and seem to be included in the report simply to inflame and/or prejudice. As of the writing of this response, the transcripts of my testimony are available at http://legisweb.state.wy.us/LegislatorSummary/Audio.aspx. I do not know why the recorded audio is not available as that would allow a listener to better understand the tone, tenor, and general feel of the hearings. At the hearing I was cross examined by Bruce Salzburg and answered every question he asked. I would invite anyone to review my testimony and draw their own conclusions. My lack of specific response to any part of the report should not be considered or construed as an acknowledgment or agreement to the accuracy or validity of that portion of the report. Sincerely, Cindy Hill
Minimum Estimated Costs Associated with Committee Work
Macpherson inquiry (direct cost paid to Cathy MacPherson) $150,000.00
Management Council (appropriation to pay attorneys and fund meetings) $231,000.00
Estimated value of WDE staff time and resources diverted from the students of Wyoming to this process. $500,000.00
Estimated value of OSPI staff time and resources diverted from the students of Wyoming to this process. $200,000.00
Estimated ETS assistance in subpeona requests $10,000.00
Estimated LSO Attorneys cost $250,000.00
Total Estimated Cost $1,341,000.00