- Associated Press - Friday, April 25, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Members of the Legislature’s Joint Education Interim Committee don’t see an urgent need for a special session to deal with fallout from a court ruling on the powers and duties of the state superintendent of public instruction.

The panel voted Friday against recommending that legislative leaders call a special session immediately.

“I don’t see any immediate emerging issue that would require a special session today,” Rep. Matt Teeters, co-chairman of the committee, said.

Teeters, R-Lingle, noted that legislative leaders could still call a special session if they choose.

In addition, the education committee held out the possibility it could recommend a special session later this year so that the superintendent elected in this fall’s general election knows the office’s duties and responsibilities.

Lawmakers have been considering a special session in the wake of legal struggle between the Legislature and the governor’s office and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill over control of the Wyoming Education Department.

The Legislature and Gov. Matt Mead enacted a law last year taking away many of the superintendent’s duties by replacing the superintendent as head of the education agency with a director appointed by the governor.

Hill challenged the law in court and subsequently won a state Supreme Court decision in January that the law was unconstitutional because it left the superintendent with too few responsibilities. Hill was reinstated as head of the agency this past week.

The issue raised discussion about how Wyoming’s overall public school system is set up administratively.

The education committee was assigned to study the state’s education governance this summer.

On Friday, it heard testimony about how other states govern their public education. States have varying levels of responsibilities among the governor, state education board and separate chief education officer.

Witnesses testified that politics had corrupted education; that parents and the public were left out of the discussion on education matters; and that groups outside the state were attempting to influence Wyoming’s public education.

Hill said citizens want a more decentralized education system.

The education committee voted to have staff draft legislation creating a task force to look at how Wyoming should govern its school system.

The panel will discuss details, such as who would make up the task force, at a future meeting.

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