06/25/2013 06:09 pm ET

Cindy Hill, Wyoming Education Chief, Fights Back At Mismanagement Charges

The head of Wyoming's schools is claiming that she's being targeted for trying to block a federal academic standards program in the state's school system.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill (R) is claiming that a report released last week by Gov. Matt Mead (R) accusing her of mismanaging federal funds and misusing the state plane is retaliation for her attempt to block the federal government's education program.

Hill, a tea party member, told the Casper Star-Tribune that the federal Common Core program will lead to nationalized assessments and curriculum, and that she was well placed to stop its use in Wyoming.

Common Core is a set of academic standards designed to provide continuity in education among states. The plan was devised by a group of governors organized by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers with funding from the Gates Foundation. It has since been adopted by 45 states and Washington, D.C., but has come under fire from tea party activists, who claim it is seeking federal control of education, a claim advocates have denied.

“We’ll lose control over what the kids learn,” Hill told the Star-Tribune, referring to Core. “School boards should determine that. But it will be determined at a national level.”

Hill has a rocky relationship with Mead and state lawmakers; the Legislature stripped most of her responsibilities in January amid accusations of mismanagement of the state Department of Education.

Hill was removed as head of the state Department of Education and relegated largely to ceremonial duties, including serving as the state's chief concussion prevention advocate. She retains the superintendent's title, an elected constitutional office, which she can only lose via impeachment. The Star-Tribune has reported that legislative leaders have discussed convening to impeach Hill. A Mead appointee now runs the education agency.

Hill is challenging Mead in the 2014 GOP primary for governor.

In the Mead report, Hill is accused of forcing state employees to fly on the state plane with her so she could use their budgets to pay for her use of the plane. Hill is also accused of waving around a knife at her staff birthday party, saying, "I will not be bullied" in reference to a 2012 legislative report accusing her of mismanagement.

Hill instilled a culture of fear in employees, who took to carrying baseball bats and bear spray for protection when they went to the bathroom, the Mead report said. Staffers also formed groups to protect "young cute girls" who worked in the office. The report did not say why "young cute girls" needed to be protected.

Hill has denied the allegations and told The Huffington Post last week that she does not play with knives.



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