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Ex-Wyoming education chief headed home to Arizona

In this Thursday, May 16, 2013 file photo, Arizona State Sen. Rich Crandall, R-Mesa, speaks at the Capitol in Phoenix. The former state senator who headed Wyoming’s education department before a court reinstated that state’s school superintendent says he’s returning home to Arizona. Crandall was chosen for the Wyoming job by Gov. Matt Mead in the summer of 2013 but left in April 2014 after the state’s ousted superintendent claimed her job back. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

In this Thursday, May 16, 2013 file photo, Arizona State Sen. Rich Crandall, R-Mesa, speaks at the Capitol in Phoenix. The former state senator who headed Wyoming’s education department before a court reinstated that state’s school superintendent says he’s returning home to Arizona. Crandall was chosen for the Wyoming job by Gov. Matt Mead in the summer of 2013 but left in April 2014 after the state’s ousted superintendent claimed her job back. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

A former Arizona state senator who headed Wyoming’s education department before a court reinstated that state’s school superintendent as head of the agency says he’s returning home to Arizona.

Rich Crandall was chosen for the Wyoming job by Gov. Matt Mead last summer, but he left last week after the state’s superintendent reclaimed her responsibilities.

Crandall said in an interview Friday that Mead was up-front when he took the job that there was a chance a court would reinstate Superintendent Cindy Hill after the Legislature and Mead stripped her of her powers, but thought it was unlikely.

“He said from the very beginning, ‘We’re going to win this thing five to zero,’ ” Crandall told The Associated Press. “He told me that during my interview with him, he says no, we’ll win this suit. And what happened is the Legislature kind of overreached a little too far. They took everything from her. They were just so angry with her.”

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

The governor hired Crandall, who resigned from the Arizona Legislature and took the job in August.

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 elected superintendent with too few responsibilities. Hill was reinstated as head of the agency this past week.

“What the Supreme Court kind of said was, ‘Well if you left some stuff with her maybe we could find a way.’ But three to two they said no, ‘what are you going to do next, take all the Secretary of State’s power?’ ” he said.

Crandall praised Wyoming’s governor, saying he was treated well.

“The governor was very good to me on the way out. He was very kind,” he said. “There’s no golden parachute or anything like that, there never is for a state agency director, but he was good to me.”

Crandall says he’s using up vacation days and officially leaves Wyoming state service May 1. He plans to return to Arizona in June and focus on running his family companies, possibly teaching and eventually looking for another job in education.

Crandall, a Republican from the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, said he has no plans to run again for a seat in Arizona’s Legislature.

“Definitely not the Legislature, the time commitment’s too much,” Crandall said. “But maybe a school board. I love the community college system. Who knows?”

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