John O'Brien Dec. 3, 2012, 1:22pm
CHARLESTON – A day after firing Superintendent Jorea Marple for a second time, the state Board of Education on Nov. 30 filed a response to the lawsuit filed against it over the first firing.
Mountain State Justice filed a lawsuit contesting the Nov. 15 decision of the Board to fire Marple, claiming the Board terminated her employment in violation of the Open Governmental Proceedings Act.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the parents of a special needs child, said the Board did not have the question of Marple’s employment on the agenda of its Nov. 14-15 meeting.
“On Nov. 29, 2012, the Board held a properly noticed meeting to address the reconsideration of the termination of state Superintendent of Schools,” the Board’s memorandum in support of its response to the suit says.
“The Board also properly noticed and published the agenda for this meeting. The Board worked directly with the Ethics Commission in crafting the language of the proposed agenda for the Nov. 29, 2012, (meeting). The Board permitted delegations to make public comment on the matters at issue.”
Board President Wade Linger apologized for any mistakes made in the previous two weeks during the Nov. 29 meeting, according to the Charleston Daily Mail.
Five members of the Board voted to fire Marple, while two voted against it. The Board unanimously made Charles Heinlein the new superintendent.
The Board wrote in its memorandum that it has the authority to discuss personnel matters while in executive session without violating the Open Governmental Proceedings Act.
“(T)he Board properly noticed and conducted its meeting on Nov. 15, 2012, with personnel matters being listed on the properly noticed agenda,” the memorandum says.
“However, to the extent that any decision of the Board on Nov. 15, 2012, questionably contravened the Open Governmental Proceedings Act, the meeting of the Board on Nov. 29, 2012, cured any potential prior contravention of the Open Governmental Proceedings Act by meeting the requirements set forth by the West Virginia Ethics Commission Opinion and the West Virginia Supreme Court.”
Representing the Board is J. Victor Flanagan and Linnsey Amores of Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe of Charleston.
Outgoing state Attorney General Darrell McGraw is married to Marple. He lost his bid for a sixth term in November.
Marple was the state’s first female superintendent, having been sworn in on March 1, 2011.