Shame! Shame! Shame!
The way the state Board of Education fired Dr. Jorea Marple was arrogant, rude, crass, mean-spirited, cowardly, undeserved and probably illegal. Dr. Marple had strong support from the education community, receiving widespread praise. The abrupt and cavalier manner in which Dr. Marple was sacked smacks of political cronyism, having nothing to do with the quality of her performance. What a way to treat someone who has devoted her life to the educational system of West Virginia! If the board wanted to get rid of her for legitimate reasons, why didn't they do it in an open, forthright manner, explaining the specific reasons for its decision?
Board President Wade Linger's justification, as reported in the Charleston Daily Mail, that we "need real change in education ... some new reforms ... new leadership with a new attitude and forward thinking," is so unspecific as to be meaningless. It is something you might hear from a politician who doesn't want to be pinned down. Indeed, such amorphous generalizations are further evidence that the board did not have a legitimate reason for firing Dr. Marple and that the real reason was a naked power play. Moreover, everything I have heard and read about Dr. Marple indicated that she was providing new leadership and forward thinking.
The decision by a cabal of board members is not only a disservice to Dr. Marple, it is a disservice to the children, teachers and administrators of our education system.
The recent action by the state Board of Education to fire Dr. Jorea Marple after giving her a satisfactory job performance evaluation and a raise in July is more a reflection of the state board than it is of the work that Dr. Marple performed.
What it reflects is not good. This appointed body chose to make a decision that was not part of its meeting agenda and to do it behind closed doors. Then, with no warning to Dr. Marple, just informed her that she was fired. Who behaves like this? This was not a situation where anyone was accusing Dr. Marple of wrongdoing. There was no sense that the department or county school systems would be endangered with her continued employment. In other words, there was no sense of urgency.
Granted, the Board of Education has the right to choose the superintendent. But does it make sense that they wouldn't give her enough respect to let her know in advance that they wanted to move in a different direction and that she should not expect her contract to be renewed?
No, they chose to go behind her back and fire a person who has devoted her entire career to improving results for students in West Virginia. They treated her like dirt! And Board President Wade Linger says there is nothing political. Amazing how this board thinks West Virginians are stupid! Darrell McGraw loses his election and the next week his wife is fired from her job. Please, Mr. Linger, do not underestimate our understanding of what goes on in this state.
The actions of the board reflect only on the members and the officeholders who appointed them, not Dr. Marple. Aside from Priscilla Haden and Jenny Phillips, the rest have acted in a way that brings to question their ethics as well as showing them to be ruthless and despicable as representatives of the state. They have proved that they are willing to go beyond what is common decency to heed the beck and call of the Manchin machine. I only hope that one day karma will come calling.