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Board to consider new superintendent

The state Board of Education will discuss hiring a new state superintendent during its meeting Wednesday.

Among those in attendance will be Jim Phares, currently superintendent of Randolph County Schools and previously mentioned candidate for state superintendent.

In a phone interview Monday, Phares said he would be at the meeting. Board President Wade Linger said candidates could be interviewed Wednesday, but Phares might not be the only person considered.

"We're going to look at who shows up," Linger said Monday in a phone interview. "Another board member said they were potentially interested in nominating people for the job."

He declined to identify the board member.

Since Nov. 15 the board has voted twice to fire then-Superintendent Jorea Marple and appoint Deputy Superintendent Chuck Heinlein to the position. Although Linger suggested hiring Phares as superintendent hours after Marple was fired the first time, the board eventually decided to conduct a national search.

No one is certain how long a national search could take, Linger said Monday. He said right after Heinlein was appointed for the second time that the board wants someone else in the position during the search period.

"I think we're looking at a longer time period than we want to go without a serious leader in that seat," Linger said at the Nov. 29 meeting, quickly adding that he thinks Heinlein is serious.

After that meeting, board member William White said the board would look to hire a "short-term" superintendent to take over for Heinlein until a long-term solution was found.

On Monday Linger noted it's illegal to have an interim superintendent in West Virginia, but he agreed someone selected Wednesday would serve while the board conducts its national search.

The board is slated to discuss a litany of items related to the superintendent's position.

First, board members will consider the "process and procedure" for hiring a superintendent. That discussion will include specifics for a national search, "nominations from the floor," and other options that might be suggested by board members.

Next, they will look at shifting Heinlein back to his position as deputy superintendent and interviewing nominees. The agenda includes a vote to hire a new superintendent and administering the oath of office.

The agenda states the board could go behind closed doors to interview candidates and discuss options. Actually, it includes four items for which the board could enter executive session.

Discussion of a lawsuit filed with the state Supreme Court is one of them. Mountain State Justice, on behalf of the parents of a Boone County student, is claiming the board knowingly violated the Open Meetings Act when it fired Marple the first time. The board recently filed a response stating it denies the claims but remedied any issue with the meeting when it fired Marple the second time.

The board also will outline its priorities in regard to its response an audit of the state education system.

The meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at Lincoln County High School in Hamlin. The state department intervened in Lincoln County in 2000 but is slated to vote to return complete control to the local board during Wednesday's meeting.

The meeting will continue Thursday if there isn't time to address everything Wednesday.

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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