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The state should fight Marple's frivolous suit

Some of the biggest tort lawyers in the state may have cemented West Virginia's reputation as a judicial hellhole. Their threat to sue taxpayers over the firing of Jorea Marple as state school superintendent is completely without merit.

The state Board of Education should fight, not settle, any lawsuit. Taxpayers cannot afford any out-of-court settlement to Marple or her attorneys.

Marple contended in a letter to the state board that she has "suffered humiliation" and "anguish," that "her right to enjoy life free from the unfounded action by the board has been impaired," and she has been "severely inconvenienced in her life."

This claim so lacks merit that the board should countersue for legal fees and punitive damages.

The state constitution makes it clear that the state board hires and fires the superintendent, with or without explanation.

"The West Virginia Board of Education shall in the manner prescribed by law, select the state superintendent of free schools who shall serve at its will and pleasure."

In light of that, Marple's threat to file a lawsuit unless she is given her $165,000-a-year job back, along with back wages, and unspecified damages is a nuisance suit aimed at the taxpayers of West Virginia.

Marple claims wrongful termination.

What part of "shall serve at its will and pleasure" do Marple's backers not understand?

Their demand that the school board present "competent, admissible evidence" before she can be fired is absurd.

The school board's first duty is to its students.

West Virginia is eighth in spending and 47th in performance, according to an independent audit released a year ago.

Apparently the central office staff under Marple offered little cooperation to the board in its attempt to implement the reforms suggested in the audit.

Much of what is wrong with public education in this state stems from the idea that the education of students takes a back seat to employment rights.  

Paying Marple to make her threat of litigation disappear, as has become common in West Virginia, would be an unacceptable outcome.

 


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