West Virginia on the hunt for state superintendent -- again

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West Virginia on the hunt for state superintendent -- again
By Shauna Johnson, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two years after the hiring of Michael Martirano, West Virginia is in the market for a new state superintendent of schools.

Martirano’s resignation, which he submitted Tuesday citing family reasons, takes effect June 30, 2017, allowing time for a replacement to be hired to lead the state Department of Education.

Whoever is brought on board as superintendent before next summer will be the fourth state superintendent of schools the Mountain State has had in less than five years, not including temporary superintendents.

“My biggest concern is that, not only are we dealing with changes to our calendars, our tests, our standards, our resources, but we’ve had at least three different superintendents since I took office in 2012,” said Christine Campbell, president of the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers.

Martirano was hired in July 2014 as the replacement for Jim Phares, a former superintendent in Marion, Pocahontas and Randolph counties who moved to the state superintendent’s role for only 17 months.

Citing “pressing family matters,” Phares resigned June 30, 2014.

The hiring of Phares followed the abrupt firing of former Superintendent Jorea Marple in November 2012 after she spent just more than a year in the role. Marple started in March 2011 as the replacement for the retiring Steve Paine.

Campbell said she understood the personal reasons for Martirano’s planned departure.

“I commend Dr. Martirano for his efforts, but I’d also like to urge the state Board of Education to seek a leader who will be here, who will guide and support our neighborhood schools and the experts who educate our children,” she said.

“We have principals, teachers and service personnel who’ve been dedicating their lives and careers to our kids and staying often over 30 years.”

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said he was “surprised” by Martirano’s decision to resign. “At the same time, family always has to come first, so I understand his reasoning for the decision that he’s made and respect that,” Lee said.

As the process begins to find the next superintendent, Lee said he was hoping the people working in West Virginia’s schools would be allowed input.

“Educators, teachers, service professionals are the true experts of public education. You need to listen to their voices.”

Martirano has defended West Virginia’s Next Generation education standards, oversaw the state’s takeover of Fayette County’s school system and put renewed focus on student achievement.

“Under his leadership, we have codified our College and Career Readiness Standards, we finally have a consistent and continuous assessment and accountability system, plus our students have shown gains in proficiency on assessments,” said Mike Green, president of the West Virginia Board of Education.

Green and his fellow board of education members will hire the next superintendent.

Prior to taking over as West Virginia’s superintendent in September 2014, Martirano worked for close to a decade as superintendent for St. Mary’s County Public Schools in Leonardtown, Md.