The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

February 11, 2010

***BREAKING NEWS*** State intervenes in Fayette County Schools

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Board of Education Thursday intervened in Fayette County Schools following a recommendation by the Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA). The OEPA told the board that serious curriculum and facilities problems exist in Fayette County and it would be difficult to correct deficiencies without taking control of the entire school system.

The Fayette County School System has been under close scrutiny by the West Virginia Board of Education through the OEPA since 1999. Since the county was placed on nonapproval status in 2007 progress has been made to reduce the noncompliances. Most notably, progress has been made in improving financial and personnel practices and functions.

“Although many initiatives have been undertaken to improve curriculum and instruction, student performance overall has not improved. The 2009 WESTEST scores and graduation rates have declined,” said OEPA Executive Director Kenna Seal.

In addition, Fayette County has been unable to maintain the current number of buildings, many of which are substandard and unsuitable to adequately serve students and staff. Fayette County residents recently voted down a school bond referendum which would have raised money to correct facility problems.

Immediately following the vote in favor of intervention, the board accepted the following recommendations by West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine.

• The state superintendent will oversee Fayette County School System finances, personnel, school calendar and curriculum.

• The state superintendent has the authority to conduct hearings on personnel matters and school closure or consolidation matters and subsequently render the resulting decisions.

• The state superintendent has the authority to replace administrators and principals in low performing schools and to transfer them to alternate professional positions within the county at his discretion.

• The state board declare the office of county superintendent of schools of Fayette County to be vacant as of February 22, 2010 and for Dr. Dwight Dials to step into that position as the state’s appointee.

"Fayette County has worked very hard but just have not been able to make enough progress,” said Paine. “Our key concern always has to be the students and right now it is in their best interest to intervene in Fayette County.”

For the full OEPA report, contact the West Virginia Department of Education Communications Office at (304) 558-2699.

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