The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 10, 2013

W.Va. preparing search for new schools chief

The Associated Press

CHARLESTON —  West Virginia Board of Education President Wade Linger says the board is moving forward with a nationwide search for a new state schools superintendent but members want to ensure that the hiring process is done correctly.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has agreed to develop a process for the board to follow. The board also plans to hire an outside consultant firm to conduct the search, Linger said.

“The last thing we want to do after all we’ve been through is to do this wrong,” Linger told the Charleston Gazette ( ) on Tuesday.

Board members hired James Phares as superintendent in December 2012 to replace Jorea Marple, who was fired a month earlier. But the board said at the time that it planned to conduct a nationwide search for a long-term superintendent.

“I understand that there may be people out there that would like to think we’d be moving faster, but we’re just kind of in that area between wanting to make sure we do it right and being perceived as dragging our feet,” Linger said.

Former board members Priscilla Haden and Jenny Phillips resigned shortly after they voted against Marple’s termination. Marple sued the board, alleging that she was denied due process. The lawsuit also alleges that the handling of the dismissal wrongly damaged Marple’s reputation. The case is scheduled to go to trial in federal court in 2014.

Phares said through a spokeswoman that he supports the board’s decision to search for a more long-term candidate.

“The board is doing the right thing. Months ago they said they would move forward with a national search, and they are,” he said Tuesday. “In the meantime, there is still a lot of work to do.”

During the 2013 regular session, the Legislature dropped a requirement that a superintendent’s master’s degree has to be in education administration. During an earlier search in 2000, that requirement forced the board’s top choice to pull out because he didn’t have the degree.

Lawmakers also removed the $175,000 salary cap for the position.