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Nicholas school board president releases official statement on lawsuit

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Nicholas school board president releases official statement on lawsuit
By Alex Wiederspiel, WV MetroNews

SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. — Nicholas County Board of Education President Gus Penix called the pending litigation against the State Board of Education “unfortunate” in a statement released to MetroNews Thursday morning.

“It is unfortunate that we had to involve the court in a local school board issue. We’re hopeful that the State Board of Education will invite the Nicholas County Board of Education back to a special meeting scheduled to reconsider the school closure/consolidation and CEFP amendment.

The State Board members will gain full knowledge of the depth and breadth of the options considered by the local board. They will also learn how the path chosen by the local board of education met the requirements of the State Board policy and was chosen by the local board of education as being in the best interest of the students of Nicholas County.”

Governor Jim Justice and West Virginia’s state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine are also named in the lawsuit, which attempts to overturn the State Board’s rejection of the county’s consolidation proposal.

In the suit, the Nicholas County school board alleges political pressure affected the final decision and vote on their request for an amendment to the county’s Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan.

The State Board of Education rejected the proposal at a June 13 meeting.

The amendment would have consolidated five schools, including permanently closing Richwood High School and Richwood Middle School. Those schools have been closed since the floods of June 23, 2016.

The body also heard an alternative plan during that session from Scott Raines, the director of planning and construction for the West Virginia School Building Authority.

The schools in Richwood, as well as Summersville Middle School, are eligible for federal funding based on the damage suffered during the floods. The deadline for the Nicholas County Board of Education to make a decision on how they use federal funding to rebuild flood-damaged schools has been pushed back until December.

The suit was filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court.