As distressing as the loss of this "visionary" is -- and again, visionary is your word, Mr. Linger, what I find equally egregious is the underhanded way in which the termination played out. It appears the board acted in violation of the Open Meetings Act. I understand that for this reason a new meeting has been scheduled to handle the process in accordance with the laws that were originally ignored. I would assume that a new meeting means there will be a new vote, and I hope that the outpouring of support for Dr. Marple you are hearing here today, that you will hear next week, and that you should have heard last Thursday will cause the members who voted in favor of termination to reconsider their votes.
I was taken aback by the fact that the board seemed to have a successor at the ready especially since several of these same board members were proponents of staging the nationwide search that yielded Dr. Marple as a candidate in the first place. I am unequivocally against the removal of Dr. Marple, but should the board vote again to terminate her employment, I expect that it will be more transparent with regard to its recruitment process.
Finally, to board members Phillips and Haden, I read that you had not yet sent your resignation letters to Gov. Tomblin. If, in fact, you have not, please reconsider your plan to do so. The children of West Virginia need people on the school board who will represent their best interests and who refuse to use devious methods to advance their own agendas over the needs of the students.
Over the past couple of days, I took the time to become more familiar with the Board of Education's learning plan, Global 21, something I should have done before now. Global 21 seems to be a comprehensive plan intended to move our system further into the 21st century. I paid particular attention to the Board of Education's stated goals for West Virginia students. The second goal of Global 21 calls for children to (and this is verbatim from the text of the plan): "develop the personal skills and dispositions of wellness, responsibility, cultural awareness, self-direction, ethical character and good citizenship."
We expect that of our children -- YOU expect that of our children -- but the events of the past week indicate to me that some of the members of this board have yet to master those traits themselves.
However, like I tell my kids, it's never too late to make amends. Please, as you reconsider your plans to fire Dr. Marple, take into account the parents, teachers, and citizens who have been inspired by her efforts on behalf West Virginia's children.
Ireland, of Charleston, has two children in Kanawha County public schools. This commentary is condensed from remarks she made at the West Virginia Board of Education meeting on Nov. 21.