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This isn't about Marple; it's about W.Va.'s kids

Ten months after the state Board of Education received a damning report on  West Virginia's public school system, it exercised its authority and terminated then-state Schools Superintendent Jorea Marple.

There then ensued a drama in which there was an attempt to cast Marple as a victim of cruel forces.

Mountain State Justice rounded up two plaintiffs and filed suit with the state Supreme Court alleging that the board violated the state's Open Meetings Law.

The board met and fired Marple again, as state law allows.

The board wants to change a public education system that has many of the state's students scoring below average in far too many categories.

Many other state leaders, including many in the Legislature, have also had it with overregulated, overly expensive, ineffective public education.

But beating entrenched interests will not be easy.

Now we have another drama.

Lawyers Timothy Barber, Rudolph DiTrapano, Patrick Maroney and Andrew McQueen say they will sue the state Board of Education, contending that it illegally fired a will-and-pleasure employee.

This group will demand a due-process review of Marple's dismissal, her reinstatement, and what Barber called "damages, serious damages, for harm to her reputation."

Presumably seriously financial - to come out of the hides of struggling West Virginians.

It's obvious that perhaps the most important objective of the suit is to prevent the state Board of Education, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and legislative leaders from cutting through the obstacles to a better educational system - to prevent reform.

This attempt to brand Marple as a martyr is an effort to reframe the issue so state government continues to focus on the "rights" of the adults who have an economic interest in the school system.

This will not play well in the court of public opinion.

Marple made $165,000 a year. She was fired in accordance with state law.

Her reputation has not been harmed. She retains the high regard even of people who back the board's action.

The adults in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government should reject this ill-chosen attempt to gum up the works and thereby short-circuit reform.

The focus belongs on the right of West Virginia students to a thorough and efficient education at public expense - and should stay right there.


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