January 28, 2022 |
After a court ruling gave a legal green light process, Governor Mark Gordon appointed Brian Schroeder to be Wyoming’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. Schroeder replaces Jillian Balow who resigned January 16 to become Superintendent of Public Instruction at the Virginia Department of Education. Under state statute the Governor was required to select one of three candidates within five days of the Republican Party Central Committee submitting their names to him.
The appointment was stalled by a group of Republican moderates and Democrats, who sued in federal court to block the nominations sent to the governor by the conservative GOP Central Committee. The plaintiffs argued that the selection process is unconstitutional because it gives small counties a disproportionate amount of voting power. The Central Committee consists of three members from every county. Each member cast a vote last Saturday in a process where the top three-voters were selected as candidates. The plaintiffs argued that the process discriminates against more populated counties, stating that a vote from Niobrara County carried as much as 40 times more weight Laramie County.
The defendants included the Central Committee and the governor himself. At their convention last week where the vote was held, party officials argued that the “one man, one vote” constitutional requirement in elections does not apply to a selection process. The court apparently agreed. In ruling against the defendants, who are mostly attorneys from Casper, Cheyenne and Laramie, Judge Skavdahl wrote that case law does not support their position. The judge also ruled that the defendants failed to establish any irreparable injury if the governor made the appointment. So the court denied the request for a permanent injunction.
Carbon County Republican Chairman Joey Correnti is a member of the party’s Central Committee, which was named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Correnti welcomed the court’s decision.
Pictured above: Newly appointed Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Brian Schroeder. Photo from the Cody Veritas Academy website.
Former Wyoming Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau initiated the lawsuit and lobbied 15 others to join him. Former Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank was the attorney of record for the defendants and filed the case in federal court.
Meanwhile, Governor Gordon said he appointed Schroeder “after much prayer and careful consideration.” Schroeder has worked as a teacher and administrator in private schools in California, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming and as a family and youth counselor. He most recently served as Head of School at Cody’s Veritas Academy, a private Christian school. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Maranatha Baptist University and holds a Masters degree in Professional Counseling from Liberty University.
In the statement announcing the decision, Governor Gordon stated that in an interview conducted with the candidate this week, “Brian demonstrated his commitment to ensuring that parents are intricately involved in their children’s education, just as it should be.”
In his application for the position, Schroeder spoke of the importance of schools, “The local American schoolhouse is uniquely poised to be both an extension of and support for the American home as well as an incubator for and bridge to American society.”
Even though the restraining order brought by the former House Speaker and former attorney general was denied, legal proceedings on the constitutionality of the core legal issue—the violation of civil rights through voting discrimination—will continue. Correnti said the law should be changed through legislation, not legal action.
The plaintiffs have not signaled how they will proceed. Meanwhile, the governor said that he will work to ensure a smooth transition in leadership for the Wyoming Department of Education.