Supreme Court won't hear lawsuit over superintendent's firing

By John O'Brien | Jan 17, 2013

CHARLESTON – The state Supreme Court has denied a petition that sought to challenge the firing of state Superintendent Jorea Marple.

The petition was filed on behalf of the parents of a special needs child and said the Board of Education did not have the question of Marple’s employment on the agenda of its Nov. 14-15 meeting.

This was in violation of the Open Governmental Proceedings Act, the suit said.

However, on Nov. 29, the board fired Marple again, this time with a properly noticed agenda. Jim Phares is now the state superintendent.

Marple, the wife of former Attorney General Darrell McGraw, was the state’s first female superintendent, having been sworn in on March 1, 2011.

A Jan. 11 order list on the court’s website says all five justices refused to consider the petition.

A response filed by the board said 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.”

Marple has reportedly sent notice to the board of her intention to sue it. A 30-day notice is required before filing suit against governmental agencies.

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