Marple To Sue Over Firing

CHARLESTON (AP) – West Virginia education officials should expect a lawsuit from fired state schools superintendent Jorea Marple over her abrupt dismissal late last year, her lawyers warned in a letter Wednesday.

The letter says Marple plans to sue, alleging she was illegally terminated when the state Board of Education voted to dismiss her Nov. 15. Less than two years after unanimously selecting the longtime educator, administrator and author, the board cited a desire to pursue a different direction with new leadership.

Wednesday’s letter provides the 30-day advance notice required by law before a state agency or official can be sued in such instances.

“However, we have not received a complaint, thus it would be inappropriate to make a comment about the matter at this time,” Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro said Wednesday.

Retired Kanawha Circuit Judge Andrew MacQueen and three other veteran lawyers – Timothy Barber, Rudolph DiTrapano and Patrick Maroney – are representing Marple. They could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

A pending Supreme Court petition alleges that the board violated the state open meetings law when it fired Marple. The parents of a Boone County student filed that challenge, citing the lack of notice that Marple’s position would be discussed on the agenda of the board’s Nov. 15 meeting.

But the board has since voted to hire James Phares for the job. Most recently Randolph County’s schools chief, Phares took his oath Wednesday. The board also revisited Marple’s firing and again voted to oust her in a November meeting meant to quell any concerns over the open government law.

Two board members, Priscilla Haden and Jenny Phillips, voted against Marple’s firing and resigned over her dismissal and how it was handled.