Nicholas County judge: School board didn't violate open-meeting laws

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Nicholas County judge: School board didn't violate open-meeting laws
By Alex Thomas, WV MetroNews

SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. — A Nicholas County Circuit judge ruled Friday the Nicholas County Board of Education did not violate open-meeting laws when discussing consolidation plans within the school system.

Circuit Judge James Rowe said there was no “convincing evidence” secret meetings occurred to discuss consolidating five institutions into two schools, and the school board was presented with limited options following the June 2016 flood.

Richwood Middle, Richwood High and Summersville Middle schools were closed because of related damages.

Nicholas County High School, Richwood High School and Nicholas County Career and Technical Center would consolidate into one high school institution under the proposal. Richwood Middle and Summersville Middle schools would merge into one middle school.

Consolidation opponents, including members of the Richwood High School Alumni Association and some Richwood High school faculty, filed a lawsuit in February.

Dr. Gus Penix, president of the Nicholas County Board of Education, said he understands discussions surround consolidation have been emotional.

“The charge of the board of education, however, is to make sure we are educating all kids in our district to the best of our ability and remaining fiscally solvent at the same time,” he said.

According to Penix, West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine told him once the court hearing was complete, he would work to put the consolidation plan before the state Board of Education.