(Disclosure:  My wife is one of the WV State Board of Education who resigned earlier this week.  The views below are mine alone.  I would never attempt to speak for her.)

This week a despicable and senseless action was taken at the WV State School Board meeting.  A Gang of Five fired the State Superintendent [Dr. Jorea Marple] without cause or notice.  Two board members resigned including my wife.

Despite Marple being a “will and pleasure” appointee she and the education community of West Virginia deserves to know why this unexpected action was taken.  This had to hatched up in private without including the two [Priscilla Haden and Jenny Phillips] who resigned in protest.  Such behind the scenes plotting is a violation of the Open Meetings Law.  This Gang should be held accountable.

Dr. Marple was told to turn in her keys, credentials and be out of the building by the end of the day.  She is held in such high regard that department of education staff while crying packed up her personal items and carried boxes down the street to her home across from the state capitol building.

Within hours it became apparent there was another party in the conspiracy plotted by the Gang of Five when Board President Wade Linger on a special board call said Dr. James Phares [Superintendent of Randolph County Schools] would be named and would accept the position as State Superintendent.

In an interview with The Inter-Mountain [click & read] on Friday Phares said state board officials [Linger] reached out to him this week.  That is interesting because on October 28th Phares made an unexpected visit to our home.  He came on the pretense to update my wife [Jenny Phillips] regarding the stabbing and death of a Mill Creek student and the action taken by Secondary School Activities Commission related to the Elkins High School football team.  During that visit Phares said he had spoken with Linger and proceeded to probe about the relationship of Superintendent Marple and the state board.

Phares returned Tuesday when Sandy dumped her snow [2 feet] in Elkins to “check on us”.  He offered to shovel us out even go for coffee – we had no power.  Phares is not a neighbor nor have we had a personal relationship with him.  My antenna went up.  He may be a Good Samaritan but a scheming one.

To support the claim that this was planned well in advance of Thursday, Phares said in The Inter-Mountain interview “The (Randolph) board was anticipating this.  They did have a heads-up this might occur.”  Phares is so certain he will be named on next Wednesday that he is resigning the Randolph County position on Monday.  He plans to be present at the State Board meeting when a permanent replace for Marple is to be discussed.    Talk about arrogance.

Customarily organizations of this consequence will conduct a search before making a decision.  Not in this case as Linger the leader of this Gang of Five must have “cut a deal” with Phares.   What gives Linger the authority to name the State Superintendent?





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3 Responses to “Conspiracy”

  1. Dave Rao says:

    Mr. Phillips..I’m shocked and dismayed that you..of all people…are shocked. What a terrific message we’ve sent to our college bound kids about how the system is rigged. No wonder they leave. Great reporting as usual. I have you up for a Pulitzer.

    No kidding.

  2. Jimbo says:

    I am not a Marple fan, she wasn’t great when she ran Kan Co Schools. I was dismayed when she was hired in the first place as State Supt. However, I was equally dismayed when Manchin appointed his WIFE to the state board. I just want politics out of education. Marple was obviously fired for political reasons. However, she was HIRED for political reasons. When she was identified as one of the finalists, I knew she would be hired. Anyone that follows state politics knew this as well.

    Having said all that, I would hate to see your wife resign. I want other voices out there who won’t fall in to “group think” when it comes to decisions. I don’t want Manchin “yes men”.

    With Phares coming to your house like he did, that tells me all I need to know about him: Political Hack. He no cares for kids than a tree in the forest cares. He’s had like 3 different Supt jobs in the last few years? What’s that about.

    Keep watch for the Manchin fans. Their reach is far!

  3. Linda says:

    I don’t know what the problem with Ms. Marple was, at the state level, that could have prompted such a sudden firing without some sort of due process. I do know, as an educator, that I was very happy to hear that Ms. Marple was trying to initiate some changes to make education a little more developmentally appropriate for younger students. The methods used to arrive at the decision to fire her, and to replace her, seem very undemocratic, to say the least. It is not a good example to set for the very students who may one day have an even higher position, with more power, than the board members who fired her. What if those very students one day follow suit and abuse their power to make a decision, behind closed doors, that adversely affects the retirement or medical benefits, for example, of those board members? Whether it was a good call or not, the process that they used to perform these actions could very well come back to haunt them.

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