The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

November 16, 2012

Board fires state schools superintendent

Former Marion County Superintendent Phares is President Linger’s choice to be replacement

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Board of Education fired Schools Superintendent Jorea Marple on Thursday, and two board members who opposed the decision said they will resign.

Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro said the board voted 5-2 to terminate Marple’s contract, with members Jenny Phillips and Priscilla Haden opposing the decision. The resignations of Phillips and Haden are effective Dec. 31.

The board met again Thursday and appointed Deputy Superintendent Charles Heinlein to replace Marple pending a Nov. 21 meeting to choose a long-term hire. Board President Wade Linger announced that he wants Randolph County Schools Superintendent James Phares for the job. Phares formerly served as Marion County’s superintendent.

Linger said in a statement that the board believes the state’s public school system needs a new direction.

“Dr. Marple’s concern for and commitment to West Virginia’s schoolchildren is well known. She has served them with distinction, and we appreciate her public service. However, the West Virginia Board of Education believes this is a time for a change in direction. As such, we think it is important for new leadership,” Linger said.

Marple said in a telephone interview that she was surprised by the decision.

“I had received only words of encouragement,” she said.

She said she had tried as superintendent to identify issues, including ways to fund schools.

“My heart, my soul and my being are with teachers and children and I hope to continue to be an advocate for meeting the needs of the children,” she said.

House Education Chair Mary Poling said she was shocked at word of Marple’s firing. The Barbour County Democrat credited Marple for addressing curriculum standards and overseeing a new way to measure student performance while responding to the governor’s call to trim the state budget.

“I think she was doing a good job,” said Poling, a retired educator. “I found no problems with her work... I would like to know why they did that, and know of no reason why they would.”

Marple’s firing comes as pressure mounts on the Legislature and other officials to act on a recent audit of West Virginia’s public schools. Commissioned by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the wide-ranging review describes a low-performing education system rigidly controlled by a state-level bureaucracy and a thick stack of policy-directing laws.

“The kids, the teachers and service personnel across the state will feel the effects at a time when we can ill afford it,” said Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association.

The American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia and the state’s School Service Personnel Association said that board members had told them in recent months of a rift over the audit between the department and some board members.

“Based upon these conversations with state board members, we have no evidence that Dr. Marple’s dismissal was politically motivated, but rather (was) based upon philosophical differences,” the groups said in a joint statement.

Leaders of the two groups, which together represent about 16,000 people in the school system, said they were also surprised by the abruptness of the firing and troubled that it happened without any public discussion.

“I’m certainly dismayed by the manner in which they have done this,” AFT-WV President Judy Hale told The Associated Press, adding that the firing and the two resignations leave a leadership void with no indication of how it will be filled.      

Lee’s group represents both teachers and administrators. He also was surprised by the firing of Marple, whom he called a strong advocate for students, teachers and service professionals. He also said he was appalled by the manner in which the board handled her firing, without warning.

“Dr. Marple has done a great job in her short tenure as superintendent,” Lee said. “It was completely out of the blue to me. Dr. Marple is widely respected, not only by her peers but by education employees around the state.”

Marple had served as the state’s schools chief since March 1, 2011, and previously served as deputy superintendent. Her husband is Attorney General Darrell McGraw, who lost a bid for a sixth term in the Nov. 6 general election.

1
Text Only
West Virginia
  • Manchin urges mines to speak out for coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 16, 2014

  • Many schools already meet new mandate for breakfast

    Many West Virginia public schools have changed the way they serve breakfast to students ahead of a requirement that goes into effect in September.

    April 14, 2014

  • W.Va. grower promotes unmodified feed corn

    Lyle Tabb is hoping that his non-genetically modified corn will take off with farmers who can charge top dollar for “all natural” eggs.
    Genetically modified or GMO corn has greatly simplified the process of getting rid of weeds, but has also substantially increased the amount of a chemical call glyphosate.

    April 13, 2014

  • Geologists link small quakes to fracking

    Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to hydraulic fracturing, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas that are among the nation’s strictest.
    A state investigation of five small tremors last month in the Youngstown area, in the Appalachian foothills, found the injection of sand and water that accompanies hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica shale may have increased pressure on a small, unknown fault, said State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers. He called the link “probable.”

    April 12, 2014

  • Phares looks forward to retirement

    James Phares looked forward to the challenge and opportunity to help make a difference in a state education system under fire when he was hired in late 2012 as West Virginia’s schools superintendent.
    After 18 months, Phares will be stepping down on June 30 — which he said was set long ago as the day at age 61 that he’d walk with his wife into retirement.

    April 11, 2014

  • Teacher planning, abortion ban among W.Va. vetoes

    Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed about 200 bills and nixed eight this year, leaving teachers and abortion opponents unsatisfied.

    April 7, 2014

  • Spill company president ‘bears no fault’

    The president of Freedom Industries “bears no fault” for a West Virginia chemical spill that spurred a water-use ban for up to 10 days for 300,000 people, his lawyer says in a court filing.
    On Friday, Freedom President Gary Southern withdrew his application to get paid for work he already did during the company’s bankruptcy proceedings. He also wanted Freedom and its insurance to cover his legal fees related to the Jan. 9 spill.

    April 5, 2014

  • Agencies to ask West Virginia residents about chemical spill

    Health agencies are making thousands of phone calls and going door-to-door to ask West Virginians how a January chemical spill affected them.
    The state Bureau for Public Health announced Thursday that volunteers will survey randomly selected households in nine counties about health concerns from the spill.

    April 5, 2014

  • Hearing scheduled on police shooting suit dispute

    The family of a Virginia man who was shot and killed by Martinsburg police officers after a scuffle is asking a judge to order the city to give them investigative and autopsy reports from the incident.
    The estate of 50-year-old Wayne Arnold Jones of Stephens City, Va., filed a $200 million federal lawsuit against the city after he was killed on March 13, 2013.

    April 4, 2014

  • Families remember mine disaster victims

    Four years after losing friends and relatives in a West Virginia mine disaster, 11 people preferred to watch a film together that they knew would reopen those wounds.
    The film, “Upper Big Branch - Never Again,” by former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship theorized that his old company wasn’t at fault for the deadly explosion, despite four investigations that concluded otherwise.

    April 3, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads