Ashton Marra Published

W.Va. Superintendent Announces Retirement as National Search Continues


State Board of Education members are now under even more pressure to complete their nationwide search for a new state superintendent of schools after Dr. James Phares announced Tuesday he would retire from that position in June.

In a short letter to state Board President Gayle Manchin, Phares cited pressing family issues and a desire to spend some time out of the public eye as reasons for retiring from his current position, as well as his 40 years of service in public education.

Phares was appointed to the position in November 2012 after then Superintendent Jorea Marple was ousted by a Board vote.

Manchin said she is thankful for the work Phares has done with the Board, but they will now press forward with their nationwide search to fill his position, with the hopes of having a replacement by his end date on June 30.

“We are looking for a strong person to really move West Virginia forward,” Manchin said, “to provide that vision as the educational leader that will motivate and inspire not only the educational arena, but parents and communities.”

Manchin said a state contract became effective Tuesday for national search firm Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, IA, who will begin recruiting candidates for the position.

The firm’s website says it specializes in education executive leadership searches and has been in the business of doing so since 1975.

Governor Tomblin mimicked Manchin’s sentiments, saying the state needs someone who can continue to push education reform with a focus on student achievement.