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Wisconsin superintendent candidate hired as consultant

MADISON (AP) -- Wisconsin state superintendent candidate John Humphries has been rehired as a consultant at the school district where he previously worked, freeing him up to focus on the race.

Humphries was hired as a consultant by the Dodgeville School Board on the same day in December that he resigned from his job as the district's director of state and federal programs, The Wisconsin State Journal reported Thursday.

He is challenging incumbent state Superintendent Tony Evers in the race to head the state Department of Public Instruction. Former Beloit superintendent Lowell Holtz is also running. The primary is Feb. 21 and the general election for the top two vote-getters is April 4.

Humphries' firm, BrainDance LLC, will receive up to $39,000 under a six-month contract through June. The State Journal obtained Humphries' consulting firm's contract and emails about his resignation under the state's open records law.

Humphries told the newspaper that consulting will allow him to insulate his political activities from his work for the district.

Humphries said after he ended his job as a consultant for the Department of Public Instruction in 2011, he held contracts with school districts in Kansas and regional school district organizations in Wisconsin to provide youth suicide prevention training and school improvement services.

Humphries was hired by the district in 2012 and earned $94,360 annually at the time of his resignation, Dodgeville superintendent Jeff Jacobson said, adding that the two have not discussed whether Humphries will be rehired permanently if his bid for superintendent is unsuccessful.

Evers did not respond to a request for comment. Holtz said he retired in June and does not work as a consultant currently.

Scot Ross is executive director of liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, which tracks campaign spending in the race. He said Humphries' decision to resign during the campaign "is putting his political ambitions before kids."

Humphries defended the move.

"Running for office is quite challenging if you are not independently wealthy and I am making a very serious commitment to this effort while also trying to sustain my family," he said.

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