The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 18, 2012

BOE president discusses the need for reform, communication

By Sarah Plummer
Register-Herald Reporter

— In the wake of firing West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple, state Board of Education President Wade Linger issued a statement Saturday listing areas in which “a healthy discussion can be expected regarding significant education reform proposals.”

He said student achievement must become a top priority and cited troubling statistics: West Virginia students rank below the national average in 21 of 24 categories measured by the national Assessment of Education Progress, the most recent “Quality County Report” gave West Virginia an F in K-12 achievement, the statewide graduation rate is 78 percent, and one in every four students in our state’s high schools does not graduate on time.

He noted, “It is paramount to revitalize the connection with local school systems and build mutual trust.”

Linger said the state needs to move forward on reforms suggested by the West Virginia Board of Education’s audit response “with true commitment to change and transparency.”

This audit response will be released to the public Wednesday.

Finally, he said the board plans to recommit to building a communication structure among the West Virginia Board of Education, the West Virginia Department of Education, the Governor’s Office, the Legislature and teacher organizations.

Linger did not state whether the outcome of the audit, these student achievement statistics or the existing communication structure, or lack thereof, had any bearing on the board’s decision to fire Marple Tuesday.

In an interview after the meeting, Marple told news outlets she was not given a reason for her dismissal.

Marple assumed duties as state superintendent in March 2011.

In June her performance was reviewed by the state board and she was granted a $2,000 raise for a job well done.

Linger said Tuesday he will recommend that the state board hire Dr. James Phares to fill the position.

Phares is currently the superintendent of Randolph County Schools.

On Friday Phares told The Elkins Inter-Mountain that he would be submitting his resignation  Monday and that his county staff “did have a heads up that this might occur.”

— E-mail: splummerregister-herald.com