CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Board of Education's vote to fire Dr. Jorea Marple as state superintendent could have brought to a close a career spent in education.
In a move that surprised many in the education community, the board voted 5-2 Thursday to fire Marple. Board President Wade Linger said he and the rest of the board never questioned Marple's dedication to children, but it was time for a change.
After the vote, Marple defended her time as superintendent and asked the board to provide cause for its decision.
"My heart, my soul, continues to be committed to the well-being of the children of this state, without serving political aspirations," Marple told the board after she was fired. "That is the way I have led this department, with only the best interest of the children in mind."
She became superintendent in March of 2011 after a search process that lasted several months.
When state superintendent Steve Paine announced his retirement in November 2010, board members decided to conduct a nationwide search for new candidates, giving applicants until Jan. 3, 2011, to submit their resumes.
By the time the deadline arrived, only six candidates had applied for the job.
Board members narrowed their search to the three in-state applicants: Carolyn Long, then chairwoman of West Virginia University's Board of Governors; Mark Manchin, executive director of the state School Building Authority; and Marple, then the state education department's deputy superintendent.
Linger was not satisfied with the field, however. He made a motion to extend the search timeline. He suggested the board hire an outside firm to conduct "more of a nationwide search."
"I guess I'm a little bit surprised we didn't get more responses from outside the immediate area," he said at the time. "I'm really surprised that the response was so sparse."
Linger, Gayle Manchin, Michael Green and Bill White -- all appointed by then-Gov. Joe Manchin -- voted to extend the search. Priscilla Haden, Jenny Phillips, Lowell Johnson and Bob Dunlevy voted against Linger's motion.
The split 4-4 vote defeated the motion.
In February, board members met in a closed session to choose questions for Marple, Mark Manchin and Long's interviews, and decided all three candidates would be asked the same questions in the same order.
A week later, the board had a daylong meeting to interview the candidates. Board members convened a closed-door session that evening and, after more than an hour, emerged to unanimously appoint Marple as superintendent.
Johnson made the motion to hire Marple, and Phillips seconded it.
She began her teaching career in 1969 in Braxton County before coming to Kanawha County in 1971 as a reading teacher. She soon worked her way to the central office, where she worked until 1984.
She took four years off to complete her doctorate after her second child was born, coming back to Kanawha County Schools in 1989 as the principal of the troubled Tiskelwah Elementary.