CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state Board of Education will not discuss the hiring of a new superintendent during a special meeting Wednesday.
In a move late Monday afternoon, the board amended its agenda for Wednesday's meeting to remove an item that would have allowed a vote to hire a new superintendent.
Last Thursday, board members voted 5-2 to fire Superintendent Jorea Marple, a decision that came as a surprise to many in the education community.
Hours later during a special meeting, board President Wade Linger suggested hiring James Phares, Randolph County superintendent, to be the new state superintendent. Although Linger suggested hiring Phares immediately, board members ultimately decided to discuss the issue at the Wednesday meeting.
Plans suddenly changed between 4 and 5 p.m. Monday.
The meeting originally was called to discuss a statewide education efficiency audit, and Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro said board members wanted to focus exclusively on the audit.
Media reports published Monday had quoted Phares as saying he planned to tender his resignation Monday night during a Randolph County Board of Education meeting. He told the Daily Mail last week he planned to attend Wednesday's state board meeting.
Reached Monday evening, Phares said he had just learned of the decision to postpone discussion about a new superintendent. He also said he had never planned to resign Monday.
He said he would tell county board members he might resign, but it would be more appropriate for the county board to wait for more direction from the state board before taking any action.
Phares said he did not know when the state board would discuss hiring a new superintendent. Cordeiro said board members want to meet sometime next week.
A meeting to discuss the state superintendent is planned for 10 a.m. Nov. 29, according to the secretary of state's website.
Before the item was removed from the agenda, board member Priscilla Haden said she was confident that other board members would vote to hire Phares.
@copy:The hiring process that seems to be unfolding varies widely from the one used when Marple was selected.
When then-superintendent Steve Paine announced in November 2010 he planned to retire, the board discussed its options for a replacement. There were two options: an expedited search that would allow the new superintendent to take over the day Paine left or a timeline that would allow for a larger search.
The board ultimately voted against a quick timeline. Chief among those opposing the idea was Linger, who was not board president at the time.
During a November 2010 board meeting, he said a quick job search could hurt the quality of the field of applicants. He thought the board should form a committee that would "do a real serious search instead of a rush job," according to Daily Mail archives.
"I really believe that the job is important enough that taking the time and going through the effort to make sure we've vetted every option and got the best of the best. I'm not so sure that doing whatever we can do by Jan. 1 is the most important criteria," he said at the time.
He also suggested hiring a job search firm to assist.
Linger is now calling for an expedited process to find Marple's replacement. He nominated Phares within hours of her termination.
The board received six applications after Paine stepped down but disqualified three candidates because they did not meet all of the job requirements, board member Priscilla Haden said Monday. Haden, who was board president at the time, did not favor the same timeline as Linger.
She said Monday she did support the national search and posting the position in national publications, actions taken by the board before Marple was hired.
"I know we took our time and we did it properly when we hired Dr. Marple," Haden said.
She said she did not understand why Linger wanted to move so quickly this time.
"I understand that what he did announcing Dr. Phares' appointment as superintendent perhaps is legal. However, it does not allow for any comment from the public," Haden said.
"It's just not the thing to do."
Haden and fellow board member Jenny Phillips voted against firing Marple and then announced they would resign in protest. Both said their resignations would be effective Dec. 31. Haden said Monday she had not sent her official letter to the governor yet but planned to do so.
With former board member Lowell Johnson's term on the board expiring Nov. 4, the resignations would leave three open positions. The governor appoints those positions.
Amy Schuler Goodwin, spokeswoman for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, said the governor has not selected a replacement for Johnson. The office had not received resignation letters from Haden or Phillips as of Monday, and Goodwin said the governor would not pick their replacements until they had officially resigned.
Linger has repeatedly defended the decision to remove Marple, saying it was time for the department to head in a new direction. He did not return a message left Monday but said through Cordeiro that he was busy working on preparing the board's audit response before its Wednesday meeting.
The terms of Marple's firing required that she leave her office by the end of the day Thursday. On Friday, she received a check in the amount of $4,833, according to state records. It is her final paycheck, which state code requires be given to a fired employee within three days of dismissal, Cordeiro said.
During the emergency meeting last Thursday, the board appointed deputy superintendent Chuck Heinlein to serve as superintendent until a "longer-term individual" is found.