CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Board of Education members will meet next week to again consider the firing of state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple, because their abrupt termination of her last week apparently violated the state's open meetings law.
The agenda for the meeting, scheduled for Nov. 29, was posted on the state Department of Education's website Tuesday evening. The agenda listed plans for discussion and action of the "reconsideration of termination of state superintendent of schools including public comment and the consideration of hiring a new state superintendent."
The following item on the Nov. 29 agenda is "oath of office" -- which could indicate the board still plans to replace Marple with a new superintendent.
Marple's abrupt firing last week has been criticized by many, as has the board's hurried recommendation for a new state superintendent -- Randolph County Superintendent Jim Phares -- the same day.
Though board members voted 5-2 to fire Marple at their Nov. 15 meeting, the matter was not listed on the agenda. Board members spent more than an hour in closed session that day, excluding Marple. Then, after board president Wade Linger called an additional short break, it was announced that an item had been added to personnel matters.
Linger passed around a piece of paper stating that Marple's termination was effective immediately.
The state open meetings law prohibits public bodies from taking action on matters not posted in their published meeting agenda and prohibits amending agendas within two business days of the scheduled meeting, except in emergencies.
Emergencies are defined under the law as an "unexpected situation or sudden occurrence of a serious nature, such as an event that threatens public health and safety."
Asked about the board's actions regarding Marple's firing, Theresa Kirk, executive director of the state Ethics Commission, referred to the commission's Open Meetings Advisory Opinion No. 2005-10
That opinion, called "the cure opinion," outlines the steps that a governing body needs to take when it conducts a meeting that does not follow the open meetings law, but still needs to take official action on matters that were addressed at the meeting.
"A violation of the act can be rectified if a governing body takes reasonable remedial measure over and above ceremonial ratification of the official action previously taken," according to the opinion.