By Mackenzie Mays
The Charleston Gazette
Former state schools superintendent Jorea Marple’s lawsuit against the West Virginia Board of Education will move forward.
Kanawha County Circuit Judge James Stucky last week denied the school board’s request for Marple’s wrongful termination case to be dismissed.
Charleston attorney Victor Flanagan, who is representing the school board, asked in a court hearing in September that all charges against the board and former board president Wade Linger be dismissed based on the fact that Marple was a “will and pleasure” employee of the state.
Flanagan said Linger should be granted immunity because the case concerns actions he took in his capacity as a state official, and that it was the board’s right to fire Marple since she is an at-will state employee.
Marple claims the board broke open meetings laws when she was abruptly fired in 2012 and that Linger and other board members “contrived in secret” for months before her actual termination and began an agenda to replace her.
Marple claims she has faced severe defamation due to her termination and cannot secure education-related employment. She is asking for a full airing of issues in court and the opportunity to cross-examine all members of the state school board, which is currently led by Gayle Manchin, wife of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.
Stucky points to another West Virginia case where a court previously ruled that an at-will employee of the state cannot be dismissed “on charges that call into question her good name” without being provided notice of the charges against her and a hearing in which the factual basis of the charges can be contested.
Marple said she did not know that she was being fired until Linger distributed pieces of paper with the intention at a regular board meeting and instructed board members to vote on the matter. Board members entered into an executive session without Marple just before the vote.
Stucky approved all six counts alleged by Marple in her lawsuit.