The Times West Virginian

Opinion

November 29, 2012

State BOE made right decision in following law on open meetings

Today, the state board of education will meet to discuss something seemingly decided on two weeks ago — whether to fire its superintendent Jorea Marple.

On Nov. 15, board members voted 5-2 to fire Marple, who has held the position for about 18 months. No specific reason has been publicly given for her dismissal, though many speculate that it has something to do with the findings of an audit of the state’s school system and the board’s reform agenda.

The vote will probably be the same 5-2. The two dissenting board members have already turned in their resignations from the BOE effective Dec. 31 because of Marple’s firing. BOE President Wade Linger has already said he wants former Marion and current Randolph County Superintendent Jim Phares to take Marple’s place. Board members have spoken publicly about the need for change and a new direction, though they have not given specific reasons why Marple had not demonstrated that capacity in the past 18 months.

But this time, the vote will be done in accordance with open meetings laws.

While we are reserving comment on Marple’s service or her firing, as strong advocates for open records and government, we believe the BOE is making the right decision to “reconsider” their Nov. 15 decision.

To “reconsider” doesn’t mean that we believe there needs to be a different outcome — there’s also another item on the published agenda to discuss her permanent replacement. The only issue is that Marple’s employment with the department of education was not an item on the Nov. 15 agenda. While open meetings laws don’t require specific items discussed in executive session to be listed on the agenda, it does require an item to be placed on the agenda in order to be acted upon.

The West Virginia Ethics Commission has said that in an emergent situation, a governing body may vote to amend the agenda to include an action item. But that didn’t happen on Nov. 15. And so it calls into question the legality of the board’s actions.

The right thing to do is to have the vote again, this time published in advance on an advertised agenda. The board is not required to speak publicly about why Marple was fired. They are not required to have that conversation during a public meeting. Because Marple is an at-will employee of the board, they are well within their rights to terminate her employment and to do so following a discussion in executive session behind closed doors and shielded from the public.

However, the board is fixing the only cause for concern — the fact that the item was neither placed on the agenda in advance nor was the agenda amended mid-meeting to make the BOE’s action above reproach.

The right thing to do is to have the vote again. No matter the outcome, this is about following the law, not the board’s decision. The board is also going one step further and allowing for public comment, which is not required.

We must commend the state BOE for going back and righting a wrong. Following the very prescribed letter of the open meetings law — as well as its spirit — may seem like many more hurdles for a governing body to clear before an action can be made but it is vital for protecting the public’s right to know.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • If something seems too good to be true, then assume that it is

    Scam. noun. A confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.
    This is a word that Marion Countians have heard a lot about in the past few years. And the problem appears to be one that is getting worse every day.

    July 31, 2014

  • State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core

    It’s always nice to have a little bit of background information before diving into something new.
    So we have to agree with West Virginia Board of Education president Gayle Manchin when she says the state should have done a better job of explaining Common Core standards when they were first introduced.
    Those standards, part of a national educational initiative that sets learning goals designed to prepare students in kindergarten through 12th grade for college and career, will be fully implemented in every West Virginia school district next month.

    July 30, 2014

  • Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway

    U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.

    July 29, 2014

  • United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project

    The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
    That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.

    July 27, 2014

  • COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard

    I love to talk to readers.
    I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.

    July 27, 2014

  • Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial

    NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
    And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.

    July 25, 2014

  • Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives

    It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
    We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads