Opinion

Marple’s questionable lawsuit drags on

An editorial from the Charleston Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The lawsuit against the state school board by former superintendent Jorea Marple has some people scratching their heads.

Marple was an at-will employee, whose employment was terminated — quite clumsily — by the state board in a surprise 5-2 vote on Nov. 15, 2012.

But the fact is, the board wanted a new direction in the state department of education and Marple wasn’t providing it.

“Many members found no sense of urgency in the department to address some of the issues that have been outlined,” then-board president Wade Linger said at the time.

This was 11 months after PublicWorks LLC published a stinging report of its education efficiency audit, a report which to that point the department had effectively ignored.

 So board members took their prerogative to terminate her — twice. Initially, the board apparently didn’t follow the Open Meetings Act, so it had to call a special “do over” meeting to be sure the termination was legal.

Yes, the board handled her firing poorly. Marple had received a glowing evaluation just five months prior.

But despite the poor judgment in the manner the firing was done, the board had the right — the obligation actually — to make sure the Department of Education is headed in the direction of providing the best and most efficient education system available for the state’s students and taxpayers.

So now, some 22 months after the employment termination, the lawsuit by Marple claiming wrongful termination and seeking punitive damages from the board and Linger continues. Kanawha Circuit Court Judge James Stucky will rule in two weeks on a motion by the school board to dismiss the lawsuit.

Dismissal is probably the best action…

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