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Tomblin reviewing potential state BOE candidates

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By Samuel Speciale  
The Charleston Daily Mail  

A spokesman for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said Thursday that a list of potential candidates to fill vacancies on the state Board of Education is still being reviewed, though he could not give a timetable for when an appointment would be made.

Tomblin issued a similar statement in June when asked about the state of his search.

The board has two vacant seats, one of which has been empty since December 2012 when former member Priscilla Haden resigned after the unexpected firing of then-Superintendent Jorea Marple. The other recently opened up when Robert Dunlevy’s nine-year term expired in November.

While a Department of Education spokeswoman said Dunlevy has agreed to remain with the board until his replacement is named, the board has been understaffed for years.

In June, board President Gayle Manchin said she was frustrated by the vacancy because it burdens other members with more committee work.

“We are in hopes we will have an appointment soon,” Manchin told the Daily Mail in June.

Chris Stadelman, Tomblin’s spokesman, said the governor is aware of the vacancies and continues to review potential new members.

“He realizes it’s an important issue and wants to ensure the appointees are the best individuals to help strengthen and move the state’s education system forward,” Stadelman said.

While board members can expedite the process by suggesting candidates, state code requires Tomblin to make all appointments to state boards and agencies.

That restriction is complicated further because candidates must meet several statutory requirements before they can be appointed to the school board. State code requires that no more than five board members may belong to the same political party. They also may not be members of a political committee, hold any other public office and may not be employees of the federal or state government.

For example, the seat left vacant by Haden must be filled by a Republican from the 2nd Congressional District.

In his search, Stadelman said Tomblin’s priority is ensuring the best person for the job is found.

Stadelman said Tomblin has given no timetable for when he will make the pair of appointments.

Interested candidates may contact Tomblin’s office about the position.

Board members normally serve nine years. Haden and Dunlevy served the full lengths of their terms, so whomever Tomblin appoints will join the board for a full nine years.