The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Breaking News


November 15, 2012

State BOE fires Superintendent Marple

State Board of Education President Dr. Jorea Marple was fired Thursday by the board.

According to Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro, the board voted 5-2 in favor of terminating her contract.

Board members Jenny Phillips and Priscilla Haden voted against the measure, and shortly after the vote announced they would resign their positions on the board. Their resignations are effective Dec. 31.

After the board vote, Marple said she understands she serves at the will and pleasure of the board, but the data she has presented show the growth and progress the state has made under her leadership.

Visibly upset, she then asked the board to provide cause for her firing.

Board President Wade 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.

Multiple sources pinned the decision on board members appointed by former Gov.  Joe Manchin, including his board member wife, Gayle Manchin.

There was no open discussion about the matter during Thursday’s meeting, and it was not listed in the personnel matters included in the board’s agenda. The board went into executive session for more than an hour to discuss personnel matters, but Board President Wade Linger said no action was taken.

Later in the meeting, Linger called for a short break. Immediately following, he said the board was going to vote on personnel matters with an added item. He passed around sheets of green paper to all of the board members listing the termination of Marple effective Thursday. Marple took the role as superintendent in March 2011.

Outside the meeting room, the state’s education community was shocked by the sudden decision. Marple’s ouster came with little warning, though rumors had been floating in some circles before Thursday morning’s meeting, according to the Charleston Daily Mail.

House Education Committee Chairwoman Mary Poling, D-Barbour, said she was shocked to learn about the board’s action from news reports. Poling said she had no idea Marple would be ousted today.

She said more consideration should have been given to the decision, which was not talked about publicly in advance by the board.

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.”

Judy Hale, the president of the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, told the Daily Mail that the board’s decision was a total surprise to her. She worried about the department’s immediate future if Marple is going to clear out her desk today.

“If this is immediately, which it seems to be, does that not leave the state Department of Education in chaos?” Hale said. “What is the plan to carry on the business of education?”

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee also was surprised the firing of Marple, whom he called a strong advocate for students, teachers and service professional. 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.

“The kids, the teachers and service personnel across the state will feel the effects at a time when we can ill afford it,” Lee said.

The Legislature and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin are expected to focus on education in the legislative session early next year. As that approaches, the department has, as of today, no leadership heading into what could be a key period for the public school system’s future.

The move comes just days before the state board is expected to provide its response to the much talked about public education audit. A special board meeting has been scheduled for next Wednesday afternoon.

A recent wide-ranging audit of West Virginia’s public schools describes a low-performing education system rigidly controlled by a state-level bureaucracy and a thick stack of policy-directing laws.

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.

Text Only
  • Alpha announces intention to lay off 1,100 surface miners

    Alpha Natural Resources said Thursday it expects to lay off 1,100 workers at 11 southern West Virginia surface coal mines by mid-October, citing dismal markets and federal regulation.

    The announcement dealt another blow to Appalachia's iconic, but dwindling, fossil fuel industry. The company said 2015 industry forecasts show Central Appalachian coal production will be less than half of its 2009 output.

    It's due to a combination of familiar factors, Alpha said: competition from cheaper natural gas, weak domestic and international markets and low coal prices.


    July 31, 2014

  • Tractor-trailer fire engulfs East River Tunnel in cloud of black smoke

    East River Mountain Tunnel near Bluefield was engulfed in a cloud of black smoke Friday as a result of a tractor-trailer fire inside the tunnel.

    July 25, 2014

  • Davey Jude wins 34th BNI Memorial Tournament, sponsored by First Community Bank

    Davey Jude held off defending champion Brandon Reece to win the 34th BNI Memorial Tournament, sponsored by First Community Bank, Monday on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs.

    July 14, 2014

  • Fayette County man arrested, charged with murder

    The Raleigh County Sheriff's Office has charged a Fayette County man with murder in the death of Glenn L. Farrow, according to a press release.

    June 18, 2014 1 Story

  • Crookshanks, Lobban indicted for misappropriating funds

    June 12, 2014

  • UPDATE: Fayette couple charged in death of two infants

    The parents of two Fayette County children who were reported dead inside their home March 11 were arrested Wednesday on charges that they negligently used drugs and alcohol and then slept with their children, causing the two victims’ death by suffocation.

    June 11, 2014 1 Story

  • Susman resigns Raleigh Board of Education seat

    Raleigh County Board of Education member Sally Susman announced her resignation Tuesday in a letter that was to be e-mailed to BOE President Rick Snuffer, according to her son, Tom Susman.

    June 3, 2014

  • UPDATE: Two killed at Brody Mine No. 1 in Boone County

    Two workers died after they were trapped as the ground failed at a West Virginia coal mine with a history of safety violations, federal and state officials said Tuesday.
    The ground failure occurred just about 8:45 p.m. Monday, trapping the workers, safety agency officials told The Associated Press in emails. The miners’ bodies were recovered, and safety personnel were on the site of Brody Mine No. 1 in Boone County, about 50 miles south of Charleston.

    May 13, 2014

  • Skeletal remains found in Bud identified as missing woman

    Officials said that the remains of a woman found in a shallow grave near the border of Wyoming and Mercer counties are those of Theresa Ford, who had been missing for nearly a year.

    April 25, 2014

  • Dan D’Antoni will be next Marshall men's basketball coach

    Dan D’Antoni will be named the new head men’s basketball coach at Marshall, a source with direct knowledge of the hiring confirmed to The Register-Herald on Thursday.

    April 24, 2014