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West Virginia Board of Education declares state of emergency at Martinsburg North Middle

By Ainsley Hall, The Journal

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The West Virginia Board of Education officially declared a state of emergency at Martinsburg North Middle School during its meeting Wednesday in Charleston.

Jeffrey Kelley, assistant superintendent of district and school accountability, shared his report to the state board, explaining why his team suggested taking immediate and direct action.

Kelley shared that the school has dealt with multiple violations and disciplinary issues. The board has documented around 160 fights and 23 Title IX violations. When a team visited the school to conduct a Targeted School Environment Assessment on April 17, it observed several concerning situations, such as students standing in the halls refusing to go to class and aggressive behavior.

The team also interviewed students, teachers and parents. Some students shared that there are so many fights, they feel unsafe. Meanwhile, some parents shared an extreme concern for academic achievement and that they do not feel their students are being challenged in school. Based on this report, Kelley recommended placing the school in a state of emergency and that the board should step in to fix the issues.

After the report, some of the board members were at a loss for words. Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Ronald Stephens spoke during the meeting to answer questions about the school.

State Board of Education President Paul Hardesty prefaced his remarks to Stephens by saying that he wouldn’t like what he had to say.

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