Governor fills 2 vacancies on state Board of Education

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Governor fills 2 vacancies on state Board of Education
By Ryan Quinn, Staff writer

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin filled two vacancies on the state school board Wednesday, creating a full dozen-member board for the first time since two members resigned in 2012 following the abrupt firing of former state schools superintendent Jorea Marple.

In a news release, Tomblin announced the appointments, effective immediately, of Dr. James S. Wilson and Beverly E. Kingery.

Wilson, a Democrat, is a dentist who served on the Marshall County school board for 20 years. He replaces fellow Democrat Bob Dunlevy, who had continued to serve on the board after this term expired Nov. 4.

Wilson has served on the West Virginia School Board Association executive committee and the West Virginia University Alumni Association board of directors. He was also a delegate to the National School Board Association for six years. He graduated from the WVU dentistry school.

Kingery, a Republican, served as Nicholas County’s schools superintendent from 2007 until she retired in 2014. She previously served at the state Department of Education as a K-12 coordinator and director of the Reading First Project. She also was a teacher and principal in Boone County.

Kingery replaces fellow Republican Priscilla Haden.

Haden and Jenny Phillips resigned from the board after they were the only ones to vote against firing Marple in November 2012. The vote was 5-2, and took place after no explanation

Marple was hired as the state’s first female superintendent in March 2011. Michael Martirano was hired to replace her last year.

Marple filed suit against the board and individual member Wade Linger in April, arguing that Linger led a “covert agenda,” violating open meetings laws, to get other members to agree to vote to fire her. Along with defamation and other counts, Marple argued the defendants had violated her due process.

Marple — who said her dismissal has harmed her lifelong reputation and limited her ability to ever get such a high-ranking education position again — is requesting compensatory and punitive damages in her suit as well as a full hearing on why the board wanted to fire her, with an opportunity to defend herself. She said she did not know that she was being fired until Linger distributed pieces of paper with the intention at a board meeting and instructed members to vote on the matter.

Linger and the school board have appeals pending before the state Supreme Court, following Kanawha County Circuit Judge James Stucky’s refusal in November to dismiss Marple’s suit.

Tomblin’s appointments come after the now Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee pulled a resolution from its agenda Tuesday that would have urged the governor to finally fill the vacancies. Committee chairman Dave Sypolt, R-Preston, said he pulled the item Tuesday after the governor’s office informed him that the appointments would be announced soon. Sypolt said he didn’t know whether the proposed resolution hurried the governor up.

“Sure enough, they told me the truth, and next day the appointments were made,” Sypolt said. “I consider it no harm, no foul.”

Tomblin spokesman Chris Stadelman said the proposed resolution had no effect on the governor’s decision.

“The governor wanted to make sure we had the most appropriate people to serve,” Stadelman said. “It’s a nine-year appointment, so that’s not to be taken lightly.”

The board consists of nine voting members appointed by the governor to nine-year terms and three non-voting members: the state schools superintendent and the chancellors of the state Higher Education Policy Commission and the state Council for Community and Technical College Education. The nine members are:
• Independent Wade Linger, term ends 2017
• Democrat Gayle Manchin, term ends 2015
• Democrat Bill White, terms ends 2019
• Democrat Lloyd Jackson, term ends 2020
• Democrat Tom Campbell, term ends 2021
• Democrat James Wilson, term ends 2023
• Republican Tina Combs, term ends 2016
• Republican Michael Green, term ends 2018
• Republican Beverly Kingery, term ends 2022