WI Supreme Court rules state superintendent must seek governor’s approval in rule-making

Three years after ruling otherwise, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has reversed course and ruled that the state superintendent and the Department of Public Instruction must submit proposed administrative rules to the governor for approval as is required of all other state agencies.

Today’s 4-2 ruling overturned a 2016 decision that the state superintendent was exempt from the requirements.  In this decision, the majority ruled that while the constitution provides the state superintendent the authority to supervise public education, the Legislature grants the authority to promulgate rules and, thus, the Legislature can set limits on that authority.

As in the earlier case, the WASB joined with the School Administrators Alliance in filing an amicus brief in support of the position that the state superintendent should not be subject to such processes.  Today’s new ruling came despite the fact that the state superintendent is a constitutional official, and despite at least two prior Supreme Court decisions that held such a requirement is unconstitutional.

State agencies promulgate administrative rules to implement or interpret provisions of the statutes enforced or administered by the agency or to establish agency procedures for administering programs. Administrative rules have the force and effect of law.

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