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Award-winning Harrison superintendent denied new contract

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By Roger Adkins
The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — The Harrison County Board of Education voted 4-1 Tuesday not to renew the contract of Superintendent Susan Collins.

Board member Doug Hogue was the sole dissenting voice in the vote during a board meeting at the central offices on E.B. Saunders Way.

Board president Mike Queen, Vice President Dave Sturm, Board member Allen Gorrell and board member Gary Hamrick all voted not to renew Collins’ contract, which expires June 30.

Hogue said he was deeply disappointed in his fellow board members.

“It was a great miscarriage of justice,” Hogue said. “I guess all of the good you’ve done doesn’t count for anything.”

The vote not to renew Collins’ contract was about more than her job performance, and represented biased personal opinions, Hogue said.

“I think that’s pretty evident. I always thought you were supposed base your judgments on the materials before you and not your personal opinion,” Hogue said. “We are all adults here. How can you have a positive evaluation, polls that show overwhelming support and then all of a sudden drop the ball big time like this?”

It is time for Harrison County to move on, Sturm said.

“For me, this comes as an opportunity to move forward with the county school system. I want to see us build on what Mrs. Collins has accomplished,” he said.

Hogue said he couldn’t understand his fellow board members’ line of thinking. The county already was moving forward under Collins’ leadership.

“We took two steps forward and now we’ve taken three steps back into the dark ages,” he said.

Sturm said he had issues with Collins’ transparency and communication with the board. Hogue said he felt like Sturm was talking about a different person.

“She’s always had an open-door policy,” Hogue said. “She’s answered every question I’ve ever asked her.”

Collins told The Exponent Telegram that she wanted to take some time to process the news before she commented on the board’s decision.

Queen said a special meeting will be held at noon on Friday to discuss personnel issues that include the beginning of a search for a new superintendent.

Though their efforts ultimately were in vain, several people spoke on Collins’ behalf during the meeting. They cited her numerous accomplishments and rapport with the community.

Collins was named 2014 Superintendent of the Year by the West Virginia Association of School Administrators. She also was named “Educator of the Year” by The Exponent Telegram Editorial Board as part of of its recent “Difference Makers” series, officials said.