Additional monitoring recommended for Logan, Wayne County schools

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Additional monitoring recommended for Logan, Wayne County schools
By Samuel Speciale, The Charleston Daily Mail

The state’s education audits department is recommending additional oversight of two school districts after on-site reviews found various policy violations that “impede a thorough and efficient system of schools.”

The agency, a division of the West Virginia Department of Education that conducts on-site reviews of schools in every county, visited Logan and Wayne counties earlier this year and reported its findings to the state Board of Education last week.

Logan County, which has been monitored by the board for about a year, has made improvements since the audits department’s initial reviews, but Director Susan O’Brien says more progress is needed.

Last year, Logan County officials were given six months to correct a number of violations found in a previous audit. That review found the school system had questionable finances as well as employment, financial and leadership practices and that several schools lacked a proper curriculum framework.

During that review, the audits department found teachers using outdated content standards and lesson plans that lacked focus and did not adequately cover their allotted instructional time. It also found that technology was not properly utilized, teachers lacked certification and that data was not being used to determine student learning goals or needs.

In its most recent review of the Logan County school system, the audits department noted improvements in nearly all categories, though not all issues were addressed in full.

 “The county is at the threshold of significant change and will need to further increase organization and management skills,” the report says. It also says Logan County must demonstrate more progress in support services and student performance.

Students in Logan County are considerably less proficient in math and reading than other students in West Virginia. According to Department of Education testing data, the overall math and reading proficiency rates in the county are 32 and 41 percent, respectively. Those rates for the entire state are 40 and 47 percent.

When it was last audited, Logan school officials were charged with “getting their house in order” before the state was forced to intervene. If county school districts under review do not make improvements, the state school board is authorized to step in and assume control.

While the audits department is not recommending direct intervention, the report urges the Department of Education to assist Logan school officials on improving curriculum and strategic planning.

The audits department will conduct monthly visits with Superintendent Phyllis Doty and will return to Logan County in one year for a follow-up review.

The audits department also reviewed Wayne County schools and found numerous Board of Education policy violations in staffing and leadership.

While having a sufficient staff, the audit found the Wayne County central office was not organized effectively to support schools and that the system did not have a policy manual outlining statutory requirements and school policies.

Upon those findings, the audits department recommended the Wayne County school board receive training and support from the state school board association, update all policies to be compliant with state code and school board rulings, make personnel changes and that the superintendent receive assistance in organization and management.

Wayne County also will be subject to monthly visits with the audits department.

Superintendent Sandra Pertee has been asked to give a status report at the state school board’s October meeting, after which the board will determine whether or not the audits department should conduct a full county-level review.