Cumberland Times-News

Local News

November 25, 2012

Before firing, superintendent acted on audit

W.Va. school board members cited need for change when explaining Marple’s ouster

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Jorea Marple was carrying out numerous recommendations from the much-discussed audit of West Virginia’s public schools system when she was fired as superintendent, by Board of Education members eager to signal to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and the Legislature that they supported the extensive review of education spending, policy and organization.

Those board members have cited the need for change when explaining Marple’s ouster, in light of struggling student performance. At least one member, Gayle Manchin, has commented further.

“My viewpoint was, we should all embrace this audit and garner from its findings and recommendation that would help us make the changes that needed to be made,” Manchin told The Associated Press last week. “My personal opinion is that wasn’t necessarily the way it was received at the Department of Education.”

Manchin added that some at the department have welcomed the audit. She also said she recognized that some of its recommendations were being carried out under Marple.

“I think there were some things being done. I think some changes were being made,” Manchin said. “I (also) think there was a defensiveness on (the department’s) part.”

When the board endorsed all but a handful of the audit’s findings last week, it issued a draft response that listed more than 70 steps taken in response to or that mesh with recommendations in the audit. Commissioned by Tomblin, the audit report was published in January.

The audit took aim, for instance, at the high number of Department of Education staff when compared to students. The board’s draft response credits Marple — though not by name — for beginning to reduce and revamp her department’s bureaucracy.

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