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Updated Jun 26, 2013 - 6:41 pm

Arizona senator chosen to lead Wyoming Education Department

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Richard Crandall, an Arizona state senator and co-owner
of two nutritional service companies, was selected on Wednesday by Gov. Matt
Mead to run the Wyoming Education Department.

Crandall, whose appointment is subject to confirmation by the state Senate,
takes over a department that has been embroiled in controversy recently,
including the removal of its previous administrator _ state schools
Superintendent Cindy Hill _ earlier this year by a new state law. Hill is
challenging the constitutionality of the change in court.

Despite the situation he is stepping into, Crandall said he considers the
position to be a “dream job.”

“You’ve got a state board, a governor’s office and a Legislature who just want
to do big things for Wyoming students,” he said in a telephone interview from
Washington, D.C. “And they have a lot of similar ideas and some big thinking
and to be able to walk into an organization like that and be a part of it is a
thrill of a lifetime.”

Crandall said he would “step away” from his two companies: CN Resources and
Crandall Corporate Dietitians in Mesa, Ariz.

Mead said he was impressed with Crandall’s background in education policy and
innovation. Crandall is past chair of the Arizona Senate and House education
committees.

“Rich’s philosophy of supporting our students and schools with a bottom up
approach matches well with our culture,” Mead said in a statement.

The Wyoming Education Department oversees a budget of about $1 billion a year
and employs about 150 people.

Mead and the Legislature enacted a new law this past winter removing the
statewide elected superintendent of public instruction as head of the Education
Department. Instead, the department will be administered by a director appointed
by the governor.

The change occurred in the middle of Hill’s four-year term. Hill was elected in
2010.

Jim Rose, director of the Wyoming Community College Commission, has been acting
as interim director.

The law was the subject of a failed referendum by the Wyoming Constitution
Party and an inquiry into how the Education Department has been run.

The inquiry team, which was appointed by Mead, reported back last week. The
inquiry reported information of possible misuse of federal money for
unauthorized programs and trips in the state plane under Hill’s administration.

Legislative leaders are considering appointing a special House committee to
investigate further. The special committee could recommend impeachment of Hill,
who has denied any wrongdoing.

Crandall said he has read up on the situation and his not being associated with
what has happened so far is an advantage.

“I’m going to let that take its course because I’m not a part of that,” he
said. “Everyone’s got a clean slate with me there. I’m just looking forward to
being part of a dynamic organization.”

Crandall was chosen from three candidates recommended by the state Board of
Education. More than 80 applied for the director’s position.

The other finalists were: Tony Apostle, a retired superintendent of Puyallup
Public Schools in Puyallup, Wash.; and Norman Ridder, a superintendent of the
Springfield Public Schools in Springfield, Mo.

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