"Any board always considers what is best for students no matter what side of the coin it comes down on. When there's change, there's always a time that embodies tension, and it's my intent to move [as] quickly as possible and change it for the betterment of the students."
Board members Priscilla Haden and Jenny Phillips announced their intention to resign after Marple's termination was announced, and both are concerned about the sudden plans for the appointment of Phares.
"In my memory, we have done a search and we have given all educators in West Virginia the opportunity to apply and have even looked out of state on some occasions," Haden said.
Phillips said she believes it was a "set up" and that certain members had intentions of replacing Marple with Phares for a while.
Sen. Manchin appointed all five board members who voted to terminate Marple. Linger, Gayle Manchin, Bill White, Bob Dunlevy and Mike Green voted against Marple.
Board member Lloyd Jackson was not present Thursday, and former member Lowell Johnson's replacement has not yet been named. Johnson, whose term expired Nov. 4, said he believes the board's timing is suspect because he would have supported Marple.
In July, the state board met in closed session to discuss Marple's job performance. When the session ended, no action was taken and Linger announced that her performance was good. At the time, she also received a $2,000 raise.
"I have no idea why they fired Jorea. There were some things said in the executive session that I can't repeat, but it still made no sense," Phillips said. "They said they want to find a forward-thinking superintendent. She's probably the most forward-thinking superintendent you could ever find."
Phillips, a Randolph County native, said Phares has made strides in the area. The school system was at risk of becoming taken over by the state and no longer is in a state of emergency like it was when he took the position.
"He came at the right time," she said. "When he came, we had just gone through an audit of the county and very definitely, changes needed to be made. I can't say that he's a visionary, but he straightened out a lot of things."
Lee also is pushing for a well-developed search for a new superintendent.
"I would hope that they would conduct a thorough search to find out who is available and that we could get the most qualified person to come in and lead the state. We certainly believe that Dr. Marple has done an excellent job, and I would hope that they would search to find a quality person to replace her," Lee said. "That's not to say it's not Dr. Phares, but if we want to be totally transparent, like the board says, then it makes sense to me to do a public search."
The Inter-Mountain reported in September that Phares was accused of promising to pay Randolph County school employees if they voted for an excess levy in 2010.
Phares said the allegations were false, and said transparency is something he believes in.
"I've always conducted myself in a way that, no matter what's written in the paper -- true or false -- it's not going to change who I am or what I'm about," he said. "And I'm about the students."
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.