Last week’s surprise move ousting Jorea Marple, the popular state schools chief appointed to the post just 18 months ago, prompted an outpouring of comments from educators, parents and others, including many West Virginians weary of political shenanigans.
As news of Marple’s dismissal spread on Nov. 15, many took to the Spirit’s Facebook page to say they were disappointed and disgusted by West Virginia Board of Education president Wade Linger, who led the charge to get rid of Marple.
Former West Virginia first lady Gayle Manchin and three others also appointed to the board by then-Gov. Joe Manchin sided with Machin appointee Linger.
By a 5-2 vote, the board agreed to dismiss the popular state schools chief on the spot – even though the item wasn’t on the board’s posted agenda, a violation of West Virginia’s Open Meetings Law, according to the state Ethics Commission.
The two dissenters, Jenny Phillips and Priscilla Haden, immediately vowed to resign in protest.
Below, we offer what some of our readers had to say about the firing and its aftermath:
John Paul Lynch Jr.: “This is a sad day for the students of West Virginia.”
Steve Glendenning: “This is more than a travesty. She put students first, not the unions. She visited the Eastern Panhandle, something no superintendent has done in over 15 years. This is a Joe Manchin coup to replace her with [Jim] Phares, who was appalling [as superintendent] in Marion County. Dr. Marple actually empowered educators, funded projects, and made arts education a priority.”
Monica Propst Ballenger: “Just plain out wrong! She just visited South [Jefferson Elementary]! Sad loss for West Virginia!”
Caron Miller: “I, for one, remain neutral about Dr. Marple’s job rating. I am not informed enough to judge. However, the ultimate issue is that it was handled in a corrupt and unjustified way. As a first-grade educator, I’m ashamed that our top education [leaders] acted in such a shameful way. The West Virginia Department of Education mandates that I teach character ed and instill a bully-free environment for my children. However, take a look at their actions. Why even set policies in this state when they are ultimately disregarded for their own needed purpose? Shame on them!”
Jim Watkins: “Linger apparently walked into work today ready to throw Marple from power. Even aside from the violation of the Open Meetings Law, Linger’s comments quoted in the [Charleston] Daily Mail should give everyone pause. His language and seeming demeanor reduced the role of West Virginia Board of Ed president to that of a political hack and ‘king maker’ to the detriment of education in West Virginia. If there were meaningful differences in philosophy and direction, there were more civil avenues on which to travel.”
Jackie Barker: “I don’t understand this. She seemed to be making some positive changes.”
Elizabeth Robbins Walker: Good luck calling [Gov. Earl Ray] Tomblin [to complain about Marple’s firing]. He has been known to hang up on citizens rather than listening to their concerns. He hung up on me and several of my friends multiple times.”
Karri Brooks Schnably: “Shocking! She just visited our school and she seemed so involved and interested.”
Jayme Metzgar: “I agree that this should have been listed as an agenda item in advance, and the fact that it wasn’t is problematic. … I do think this kerfuffle should cause us all to think about how our school system is structured with so much power centralized in Charleston. I would have no problem with reducing the power of the state Board of Ed and Department of Ed, and delegating more local control to counties.”
Kay Smith: “It will be a loss for educators and children in West Virginia. What are they thinking?”
Terri Jo Hill: “Shameful.”
Adrienne Sherrill: “… we must realize that by speaking up for what we believe in, and standing up for the students we teach, we put our own jobs in jeopardy if procedures are not being followed. I cannot risk losing my job for the sake of doing the right thing.”
Layla Pettry: “Someone needs to organize a protest right on the steps of the Capitol. Apathy is the best friend of injustice and people who pull this sort of stunt know it. I hope people do not let this go.”
Hillary Luks Chiz: “It’s slime.”
Laurie Woodrome-Ogden: “It would be a positive start to have a state school board with members that are not related to any political official. The fact that the Eastern Panhandle has no representation [on the state board], while contributing a large amount of money, and having very individual needs is also an issue that needs to be addressed.”