Chris Schulz Published

State Board Of Education Takes Over Logan County Schools

Logan High School.jpg

The West Virginia Board of Education is taking over Logan County Schools after a special circumstances review of the district last month.

Control of the day-to-day operations of the Logan County school system, as well as county board operations, will fall under the authority of the West Virginia Board of Education and the State Superintendent of Schools effective Thursday evening.

The decision comes after a report from the Department of Education’s Office of Support and Accountability found 46 points of non-compliance in the school system ranging from failing to post meeting agendas, to improper use of county funds.

The special review found multiple points of non-compliance related to purchasing, including improper overtime procedures, misuse of federal program funds and grant writing.

“There’s a specific entity that has been contracted to write grants and they have a contract with the district but have not provided any grant funds to date,” review leader and Office of Support and Accountability Coordinator Alexandra Criner said.

Criner detailed the findings to the state Board of Education during a special meeting Thursday morning, including allegations of intimidation of school system administrators, educators and staff.

“When we asked about intimidation, one board member did make the statement that people who are in entry level positions should feel intimidated by their superiors to a certain extent,” she said.

An entire section of the report focuses on Logan County Schools’ contracting of Heritage Educational Services to provide virtual school instruction. The contract is the source of seven instances of non-compliance ranging from student personally identifiable information being improperly shared, to a removal of special education services.

“Interviews with special education staff indicated when a parent chooses to enroll their child in virtual school, all direct special education services are removed,” Criner said. “Special education teachers reported that they have been unable to make contact with regard to providing services for those Logan County students who have chosen virtual education.”

Criner highlighted the findings around special education as, “very troubling to the team.”

State Superintendent David Roach made 20 recommendations to the board outlining the structure and procedure for the takeover. The board approved the recommendations unanimously, which included the appointment of Jeff Huffman to be the interim Superintendent of Logan County Schools.

Huffman previously served as superintendent of Boone County Schools.

In concluding the special meeting, board president L. Paul Hardesty, a native of Logan County, expressed embarrassment at the situation.

“But it’s not about me today, it’s not about me at all,” Hardesty said. “It’s about the 5,000 plus children and almost 800 employees that comprise Logan County Schools. It’s about them today. I am truly sorry that the school system is in this situation. Again.”

This is not the first time the state has taken control of Logan County Schools, which in 1992 became the first local school system to be taken over by the state board of education.