CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The maker of a software program to help find missing children said his product should not be mixed up in the firing of state schools Superintendent Jorea Marple.
Mountain State Justice, a Charleston-based public interest law firm, alleges the state Board of Education abruptly fired Marple last month because she refused to support certain contracts, including "no bid" contracts and contracts that board members had an interest in.
The firm did not name those contracts in a Friday filing with the state Supreme Court. But one of its attorneys pointed a finger at AmberVision, the product of Morgantown-based technology company SecurLinx.
SecurLinx CEO Barry Hodge said his company has never received any money from the state and never entered into a state contract, no bid or otherwise.
"This 'no bid contract' thing is, like - it just never happened," Hodge said.
AmberVision was meant to improve the federal Amber Alert system, which is designed to rapidly get out information about missing children. AmberVision stores information and pictures in the hopes that keeping all the information in one place can get it quickly into the hands of police.
Hodge said AmberVision has never been used to help find a missing child in West Virginia.
State school board member Mike Green has a "very minor" investment in SecurLinx, Green said on Sunday.
But Hodge said there were problems with the theory about his company and said people making the allegations "got their wires crossed."
Hodge also said the company has "never accepted a penny" from West Virginia for AmberVision. State auditor's records confirm the state has never paid SecurLinx or the AmberVision Foundation, a charity set up for the product.
"I think Mike is getting a total screw job on this thing," Hodge said, referring to allegations Green is mixed up in anything untoward.
At one point, Mountain State Justice's lawyer suggested a link between AmberVision and Board of Education President Wade Linger. Galaxy Global Corp., a company Linger bought in 2010, once did work on AmberVision.
But multiple sources did not reveal any current financial tie between Linger and AmberVision.
Shortly after SecurLinx was founded in 2003, the company got a contract with The West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation to write the program. Former Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., founded the consortium, which is one in a series of multi-million dollar federal projects he brought to North Central West Virginia.
In 2005, Mollohan secured $1 million in federal grant money to expand AmberVision, which was then known as Amber View.
The state school system tried it for several years until federal funding ran out in 2009. At that point, about 9 in 10 school children were using the program, according to media accounts from the time.
SecurLinx took over the program, hoping to keep it afloat and to make money from it. To do that, it had to reintroduce it to schools across the state.
Green said he helped reintroduce AmberVision to people at the state Department of Education after federal funding ran out and SecurLinx had control of it. He also worked with some state-run regional education service agencies, or RESAs, to try to get parents to sign up for the program.