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Marple wants lawsuit sent back to state court

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Former state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple wants her wrongful-termination lawsuit heard in West Virginia rather than in federal court.

Last week, Marple filed to dismiss the case from the U.S. District Court in order to focus more on the Board of Education's violation of West Virginia law, according to lead attorney Tim Barber.

"We are going to refile it immediately without any of the federal issues and questions of federal constitution to avoid federal jurisdiction. The state courts are much more informed of West Virginia law," he said.

The move is meant "not to abandon the case, but to get the case in a forum" that is best suited for its resolution, he said.

Marple sued the state Board of Education in Kanawha County Circuit Court in February, claiming that she was unlawfully fired three months earlier and that members of the board "contrived in secret" to oust her.

The lawsuit alleges that although Marple served as a "will and pleasure" employee of a state-governed board, board members violated her rights and caused irreparable damage to her reputation and the ability to gain future employment, in addition to mental anguish.

Marple also alleges in the suit that state board President Wade Linger began an agenda nine months before she was fired to replace her and contacted various board members about the plan. None of those efforts were revealed to Marple, the full membership of the board or the public, as required by law, according to the complaint.

Linger and board members Gayle Manchin, Robert Dunlevy, William White, Michael Green and Lloyd Jackson voted to terminate Marple in a public meeting. Members Priscilla Haden and Jenny Phillips voted against firing Marple and resigned from the board the same day Marple was terminated.

The school board had the case moved to federal court, arguing that Marple alleged her federal due-process rights were violated.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston hadn't scheduled a hearing or ruled as of Monday.

In addition to Barber, attorneys Patrick Maroney and Andrew MacQueen III also are representing Marple in the case.

Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.


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