RICHWOOD — When Donna Burge-Tetrick interviewed for the Nicholas County schools superintendent’s position, she advocated for expanding the county's fledging career and technical center.
That got the school board’s attention and Burge-Tetrick got the job.
She started work in June of 2016 and sought to increase course offerings and enrollment at Nicholas County Career and Technical Center, located in Craigsville.
And then the floods came in late June, devastating three schools in the district and leading to discussions of countywide consolidation.
At board meetings earlier this year, Burge-Tetrick said increasing enrollment at the center would be important to the district and a consolidated school system would help achieve the goal.
At those meetings, board members seemed to agree with her assessment.
But what the members did not know was Burge-Tetrick is listed as an officer at a for-profit business specializing in technical and career consulting, according to documents filed with the West Virginia Secretary of State office.
The business, Linco Institute of Learning, filed paperwork with the Secretary of State on Dec. 23, 2015, locating the for-profit in Alum Creek in Lincoln County. The documents list Burge-Tetrick as a member and organizer of the institute.
A call to the number listed for the business went unanswered Friday. The principal agent listed for the company is retired state Department of Education employee Deborah Frazier, listed in Secretary of State records as also running Blue Huron Consulting Group.
Prior to Linco being a for-profit company, Burge-Tetrick was listed as the president for a not-for-profit by the same name, according to records filed with the Secretary of State. She, along with her husband, Frank, an employee of the West Virginia Department of Education, and four others, had their non-profit status pulled in November 2015 for "failure to file annual report," the records read.
During a contentious public hearing Friday in Richwood regarding consolidation and the possible closure of Richwood High School, Burge-Tetrick said the non-profit was dissolved and the current company isn't making money.
However, a company information database, Buzzfile, states Linco is "estimated to generate $400,000 in annual revenues," employs one person and has a single location, Alum Creek.
Burge-Tetrick did not disclose the consulting business to board members during her interview for the superintendent’s job or since, she said. Board members did not answer questions Friday about the potential conflict of interest.
It was unclear Friday who had or currently has business contracts with the companies. "There is no conflict," she said, adding Linco Institute of Learning has "zero business."
Nicholas County Commissioner and retired board of education member Dr. Lloyd Adkins questioned if the she received legal advice on the ethics of being a school superintendent and running an educational consulting business.
The superintendent said there is no ethical conflict because, "I don't have a competing business."
Burge-Tetrick said the consulting business isn't a reason for her to resign.
The next closure hearing is slated for the Nicholas County Career and Technical Center in Craigsville at 6 p.m. Monday.
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