In a 5-4 vote on Nov. 10, a slim majority of board members rejected a plan to accept superintendent applications only up to Nov. 30. Applicants had until Jan. 3 to apply, the day Paine left his job.
Those who voted in the majority included Linger, Gayle Manchin, Robert Dunlevy, William "Bill" White and Mike Green. Johnson and Haden joined Burma Hatfield and Jenny Phillips in the minority.
Linger believes "everybody [has] focused on Gayle" and said that someone could also argue that state board member Lowell Johnson is beholden to the WVEA. Johnson is the union's former president.
"I haven't stood up and said that," Linger said, "but you could make that case just as easy as you could with Gayle and Mark."
Johnson did not return a phone message Friday evening.
In his letter, Lee also raised concerns over the temporary appointment of Ted Mattern as state superintendent. Johnson has said it is common knowledge that Mattern's family is friends with the Manchins.
"Mattern is no doubt a quality applicant," Lee said, "but the political undertones associated with his selection call into question the process used in arriving at that decision."
Linger first suggested and then nominated Mattern for the superintendent's position. He said Mattern was not put into the role as state superintendent because of the friendship with the Manchins.
"I did not know any of this history about his relationship with the Manchins," Linger said. "I know Ted Mattern because we're both from Fairmont . . . and we have a business relationship."
Linger also noted that Paine had used Mattern as a "troubleshooter" to step in and lead improvements in struggling county school systems.
Reach Davin White at davinwh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1254.