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Gayle Manchin calls allegations ‘outlandish’

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Last week's decision by the state Board of Education to fire Superintendent Jorea Marple was not politically motivated, board member Gayle Manchin said.

Board members voted 5-2 last Thursday to fire Marple. Almost immediately following the vote, other board members, a teacher's union official and Marple herself said they thought the move was political in nature.

Some said the Manchin family was behind the decision.

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said he was appalled at the actions of "Manchin appointees" on the board. He said the board members who voted to fire Marple had an agenda that was not in the best interest of students.

The WVEA has scheduled a "candlelight vigil" for 5:30 p.m. today at its headquarters on Quarrier Street for people to show their displeasure with Marple's firing, according to a press release.   

Gayle Manchin is the wife of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin. While he was governor, Joe Manchin appointed Gayle and the other four board members who voted to fire Marple.

Board members Jenny Phillips and Priscilla Haden voted against the firing and announced their intentions to resign in protest of the decision. Joe Manchin appointed Phillips and re-appointed Haden after she was appointed to an unexpired term on the board by then-Gov. Bob Wise.

On Monday Gayle Manchin said board members and others have openly and privately criticized her since her appointment.

"Statements have been made that the governor appointed his wife to the state board, even though I certainly had the education credentials and the background (to serve), just because I had the relationship there, there was something bad and wrong about it," she said.

She said she isn't sure why people would allege that her husband had anything to do with firing Marple. She said blogs and social media makes it easier to say or publish ideas without first verifying statements.

"I don't understand people that operate that way, that without any shred of evidence just make outlandish statements," she said. "I can't tell you why people do that."  

A representative for Sen. Manchin said he was unavailable for a phone interview Monday, but emailed a statement that said he had no involvement in Marple's dismissal.

Last week, board President Wade Linger called the allegations of a Manchin faction on the board "bulls - - t."   

Former board member Lowell Johnson said last week that he assumed Gayle Manchin is the major leader on the board because her husband appointed all those who voted to fire Marple.

Johnson said Monday he wasn't sure why Marple was fired and he didn't "want to get into" the political aspects of the decision.

"I'm going to hope the motive of the five who did this was pure in nature, although I have a big question mark in my mind," Johnson said.

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or david.boucher@dailymail.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.

 


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