It is with great disappointment that I write in regard to the abrupt firing of Dr. Jorea Marple by the state Board of Education. Dr. Marple embodies integrity and professionalism and is one of the greatest assets to public education in West Virginia. She works tirelessly on behalf of students and educators. And for this, she has been fired. She was recently given a good evaluation, a raise and accolades by board members. These are not actions normally seen prior to a board summarily firing an employee for no reason. The timing of this immediately following the election is also revealing. It certainly sends a message to stakeholders of public education and it is not a good one.
Whether or not one is a supporter of Dr. Marple's is not the only issue with this debacle. The unethical process the state board chose to employ to get rid of her and to replace her is unacceptable and improper. The omission of this from the agenda, as required by law, ensured no public input which would have, apparently, been a hindrance to the clandestine agenda of the majority faction of the board. The board has a legal obligation to follow the law whether or not it suits their purpose. This certainly casts a dark cloud over the state board and one that will be hard to overcome. It is this type of action that severs public trust and certainly does nothing to advance the stated goals of the board.
Board members Priscilla Haden and Jenny Phillips have chosen not to endorse this conduct. I applaud them for this, but hope they will remain on the board. Their character and knowledge are needed. Being a former employee of the state Department of Education, I know that, until now, board members served with integrity and honesty, even when their opinions differed from their constituents'. For that, they were respected - even in times of disagreement.
The current board members responsible for these actions would benefit from serving the public interest rather than their apparent personal or political ones. Board members should be examples of what is right and good with education, not what is wrong and bad with politics.
Susan Lattimer Adkins
I was astonished and appalled when I read of the firing of state Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jorea Marple. I have followed Dr. Marple's career for over 25 years and know her to be an outstanding educator. She has a deep understanding of the educational process and of teachers, administrators and, more important, of children. She has succeeded at every level.
What is particularly outrageous is the manner in which the state Board of Education terminated Dr. Marple. The subject was not on the agenda at the beginning of the meeting but was added during the meeting - clearly an inappropriate action. The board then went into secret session and five of the seven members voted to terminate her, giving her no cause. Obviously this egregious action had been planned ahead by the Manchin appointees who seem to have little or no knowledge of how to conduct fair meetings or how to give Dr. Marple advance warning so that she could be prepared to defend herself.
The conduct of the five Manchin appointees showed either their total lack of knowledge, their desire for control or their ineptitude. They clearly have a hidden agenda apparently driven by politics. Events are fast-moving in this case. As suspected, a replacement Manchin candidate was standing in the wings. Members who voted to terminate Dr. Marple expressed a desire in changing direction - two steps backward toward mediocrity. Cronyism and nepotism are alive and thriving in West Virginia.
Only two board members, Priscilla Haden and Jenny Phillips, supported Dr. Marple. I applaud their actions in refusing to submit to this charade. They are the only honorable members of the board, and I admire their integrity and their support of a fine educator.
Finally, I totally agree with the Gazette's position regarding the presence of Gayle Manchin on the board. I believe she is the person to be removed. Where does the law stand on that?
Phyllis A. Graham