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Vote to replace Raglin on BOE is Tuesday

Lawrence Pierce
Late Kanawha County school board member Bill Raglin's chair sits empty Thursday as board members discuss his replacement. Raglin, 76, died last month. Clockwise from the front are: county Superintendent Ron Duerring and board members Jim Crawford, Robin Rector, Pete Thaw and Becky Jordon.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha County Board of Education will not conduct interviews to find a replacement for board member Bill Raglin, who died last month. Instead, board members have compiled a list of about a dozen candidates and plan to vote on a selection next week.

Applicants include controversial former school board member Betty Jarvis and former state Senate Republican leader Vic Sprouse, according to school board President Pete Thaw, who announced candidates publicly Thursday even though other board members didn't want him to.

South Charleston attorney Ryan White and Ken Tyree, a captain with the Charleston Fire Department, also are interested in the position and were the only applicants to attend Thursday's school board meeting.

Others applicants who have contacted Thaw about the position include Dennis Davis, retired assistant superintendent of Kanawha County Schools and former head of vocational education; Curtis Robinson, former candidate for the school board and the House of Delegates; Pamela Minimah, executive director of All-Aid International and former school board candidate; Bill Ferrell, former Boone County sheriff and candidate for the school board, the House of Delegates and magistrate; Sallye Clark, former Kanawha County teacher and education activist; and John Miller, Charleston City Council member.

Other than Thaw, no one disclosed names of people who had contacted them about applying for the seat, but board members said many of the applicants had contacted all members of the board.

The board went into executive session briefly Thursday before returning to announce that the vote for Raglin's replacement will be taken Dec. 17.

Board member Robin Rector said she and other board members chose to skip the interview process mostly because of an impending deadline.

By law, the board has less than a month to select a replacement for late vice president Raglin, who died on Nov. 25 at age 76 after a short illness.

"We decided to take a list and prioritize that list and not do interviews. Part of that has to do with the short timeframe. It's the holiday season," Rector said. "We want to do good due diligence on this . . . , but based upon the names coming in, they were folks that are well-known. It didn't seem we needed to [extend] the process."

One of those well-known names is Jarvis, who served a tumultuous term on the school board from 1996 to 2000, during which several school administrators filed grievances against her. During her stint on the board, Jarvis made headlines when she was hospitalized after being found disoriented, wandering around a Kanawha City neighborhood in her bathrobe in the middle of the night.

The Rev. Matthew Watts -- who is leading a community schools project on Charleston's West Side -- has come out in support of Davis, who was close friends with Raglin and has the same passion for vocational education.

Tyree, 50, said at Thursday's meeting that he, too, would focus on vocational and technical opportunities if elected.

"I have a passion and a concern that the vocational and technical portion of education needs to be advanced, especially in West Virginia, seeing that there's lots of opportunities for young people that work in trades and gain technical skills," Tyree said. "And sometimes there's a stigma in some aspects."

White, 34, who heads White Law Offices with his father, Steve, intends to put his two young children through the Kanawha County school system, and said he would focus on the dropout rate and pre-K education if elected to the board.

"I think education is the most important thing we can do in our society because, I mean, without educated people, we're not going to be able to have the jobs that our county needs to thrive," White said. "I want to make sure the school system keeps doing good things."

The person selected will be promised the position only until June 30, with Raglin's seat up for election in May.

Tyree and White said Thursday they intended to run for the position again in May.

The board will vote in a special session Dec. 17 at 11 a.m.

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


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