CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Board of Education President Wade Linger wants an independent review of all the Department of Education's existing contracts with outside vendors.
Linger's proposal for an audit of the education department's and the state board's purchasing procedures coincides with a pending Supreme Court filing that alleges state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple was fired because of her refusal to support no-bid contracts.
In a statement released late Tuesday afternoon, Linger said he planned to present the board with the proposal at a regular board meeting Wednesday in an effort to reassure the public that bidding and purchasing practices are "free from political pressure or individual interest."
Linger intends to ask the West Virginia State Bar to recommend an attorney with no ties to state government or the Department of Education to conduct the review. In Tuesday's statement, Linger urges that the examiner has an understanding of state contracts, state bidding procedures, requests for information, requests for proposals and sole source contracts.
"One of the goals of this independent review will be to confirm that the board and the Department of Education are meeting or exceeding the rules and regulations pertaining to the bidding and purchasing practices for state agencies," Linger said in the statement. "I believe that it is extremely important for county boards of education, county administrators, teachers, students, parents and taxpayers to have confidence that the Board and the Department are following the rules and regulations put in place by our legislators."
In addition to conducting the review, which is expected to take four months, the examiner also will be tasked with evaluating practices and procedures in purchasing and providing guidance to the state board for entering into future contracts.
A lawyer for Mountain State Justice, the public interest group challenging Marple's firing in court, said the no-bid contracts in question included those with Globaloria, a social learning network, and AmberVision, a program that helps find missing children.
The lawyer, Bren Pomponio, who is representing parents of a Boone County student, said he was told that certain board members had personal interests in those companies and did not support Marple's belief in the bidding process.