Chris Schulz Published

State Board Of Education Hears Reports On County Investigations, Confirms Leadership

An empty school hallway is largely white and well-lit, with bright blue doors at the end of the hallway.Adobe Stock/M. Ireland Photography

The July 12 meeting of the West Virginia Board of Education opened and closed with administrative procedures.

Michele Blatt was sworn in as the new state superintendent of schools. She thanked the board members for their confidence in her taking the position.

“I just know that with the support I have from the board, along with my colleagues across the state, that we’re going to be able to do great things for West Virginia,” Blatt said.

Then, the board heard updates on two school systems under state control. Logan County Schools was placed under state control last October, while Upshur County Schools became the latest system to be placed under state control in June.

Both school systems were taken over after investigations by the West Virginia Department of Education discovered financial misconduct.

Jeffrey Kelley, accountability officer for the West Virginia Department of Education, said the review is ongoing with department staff onsite regularly. He said they have been in contact with representatives of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, as well as the U.S. Department of Education’s inspector general and the West Virginia State Police.

“Also, our office of child nutrition has begun an inspection of nutrition in Upshur County,” Kelley said.

It was also reported that the investigation had discovered more than $1 million in staff overtime expenses. Kelley said in the future the state needs to be able to identify these issues sooner.

“Having processes in place where these red flags go off sooner as opposed to later,” he said. “Basically, we need a stress test for counties in all areas, and I thought that was an appropriate term for what we’re looking to do.”

Kelley said updates to the existing accountability system for schools, known as Policy 2322, are already being discussed.

The final item on the board’s agenda was the election of the West Virginia Board of Education officers.

President Paul Hardesty, Vice President Nancy White and Financial Officer Scott Rotruck were all nominated without contest.

“I will therefore announce that the slate of officers nominated by Mr. Dunlevy are elected by acclamation,” Hardesty said.