CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The shocking and likely illegal ouster of Superintendent Jorea Marple last week is a travesty to the entire state of West Virginia, and most importantly, to our children and grandchildren.
Marple is a respected and experienced educator who unfortunately is the victim of irresponsible behavior that now threatens the entire education system of West Virginia.
Her firing, conducted by the Board of Education in probable violation of our state's open meetings law, is an abomination and an embarrassment. Board President Wade Linger should be ashamed. And those board members who supported him in ousting Marple should have known better.
The Teamsters Union does not have any direct connection to the board; nor do we represent school employees. Though our union is not directly affected by Marple's firing, our children and grandchildren are. And so our interest couldn't be greater. I am the product of West Virginia public schools, as is my wife and daughter. Soon, my grandson will be attending school for the first time.
As a union official, I am well aware that Marple is an at-will employee whose employment can be terminated at any time. However, her job is one of the most important in the entire state. Her firing and the political circumstances surrounding it, should be investigated immediately.
Marple's credentials and commitment cannot be questioned. She was just named to the position in March 2011 -- barely time to begin tackling the undeniably difficult task of reforming the state's underperforming schools. She was recently given a $2,000 raise after a satisfactory performance review.
I believe Marple is the best and most qualified person to lead the charge of fixing our schools. As the crowd at the candlelight vigil indicated, I am not the only one who believes this. Marple, who also was shocked by her ouster, has a tremendous amount of support in our state.