WVPA Sharing

Ritchie County educator named director of the West Virginia School Board Association

James G. Brown has been appointed to replace the retiring Howard O’Cull

WV Press Release Sharing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. The West Virginia School Board Association governing board announced James G. Brown has been appointed as the organization’s fifth executive director, succeeding Howard O’Cull.

O’Cull announced his retirement as executive director after 44 years with the organization.

Brown, who serves as Ritchie County Schools Superintendent, will assume the role of executive director of the Association Nov. 1 with O’Cull serving in a consultation position with the organization until Dec. 31, 2022.

Brown has extensive public education experience also having served as a county superintendent in Raleigh and McDowell Counties. He began his public education career as a teacher and has served as a school principal as well as a central office administrator and was formerly employed by the  West Virginia Department of Education.

He has degrees from Marshall University Graduate College and West Liberty State College.

“Given his experience in public education, and especially what we hope is the state’s apparent re-embrace of the centrality of public schooling, incoming director Jim (Brown) is poised to assist county boards to embrace leadership opportunities which highlight enhanced board member input at the county and state levels. The Association Executive Board – and we know our members -will accept this enhanced role,” said Gus Penix, a member of the Nicholas County Board of Education, who serves as Association President.

Brown, commenting on his appointment, said, “I am truly humbled and appreciative of the opportunity to serve as the next Executive Director of the West Virginia School Board Association.  I am looking forward to working with each of the fifty-five county boards of education to continue the mission of advocating for public education in our State and most importantly for the students we all serve.”

Penix said the Association conducted an extensive search for its incoming executive leadership.

O’Cull thanked Association members for the opportunity to serve as director.

“It has been my privilege to serve county boards. I, too, welcome what I hope is a reinvigorated embrace of public schooling. Association CEO leadership – leadership by a public education practitioner – helps secure posture for county boards to realize new opportunities,” O’Cull said.

O’Cull praised county boards for their leadership,  acknowledging their potential for leadership capacity should be welcomed at all levels of governance, based on county board members’ direct citizen election and voter accountability.

The Association acknowledged O’Cull for his Association service at the organization’s 55th fall conference September 9 and 10, which focused on county board training, as well as introducing Brown to its membership.

Founded  at an early 1950s meeting of interested school board members at Marshall College (now university),  the state legislature adopted legislation authorizing county boards to join the organization in 1958.

The organization provides, by statutory sanction, training and development for county board members as finally determined by a committee of the state Board of Education.

Additionally, the organization provides research services relating to public education issues as well as entrepreneurial services.

The organization’s offices were located at West Virginia University until its headquarters were located in Charleston in 1968.

Previous executive directors included:

William K. Hamilton
Gordon Palmer
Frederick Hoke
and O’Cull

Prior to Hamilton’s appointment, West Virginia University professors Delmas Miller and Laddie Bell coordinated Association services.

Rosalie Detch, a Greenbrier County Board of Education member, was instrumental in founding the organization.

Although a federation member of the National School Boards Association at the time of its statutory establishment, the West Virginia School Board Association severed membership with NSBA last year, based on controversy regarding correspondence NSBA provided requesting possible federal review of incidents which NSBA argued not only had disrupted or could disrupt boards of education meetings but also could endanger safety at boards of education meetings.

West Virginia School Board Association members contend the communication sentiment proved divisive and ultimately subjected NSBA to considerable criticism.

For more information, contact Gus Penix, using  [email protected]

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