West Virginia Takes Over Seventh School District
The West Virginia Department of Education has declared a state of emergency in the Gilmer County School District, located about 100 miles northeast of Charleston, the state capital.
Inspectors from the state's Office of Education Performance made an unannouced visit to the 940-student, five-school district in early May. At that time, according to a press release, they found a district in disarray.
An unannounced OEPA visit of the Gilmer County School District was conducted May 2-4, 2011. Auditors found that "county board members were in discord; the county board operations were dysfunctional; and meetings were unproductive and resulted in the board being incapable of following State Code and West Virginia Board of Education policies."
The OEPA report further states that county school board meeting minutes reflect that the school board is trying to micro-manage, essentially replacing its administrators' and county superintendent's recommendations with their own, leading to a flawed hiring, transferring and reduction in force system. Numerous questionable and irregular decisions are being made by the county board prompting distrust and suspicion.
In a story reported by West Virginia MetroNews, a statewide radio network, the executive director of the auditing department said that the problems seemed too severe for the district to fix on its own.
Gilmer now joins Lincoln, Preston, Grant, Fayette, McDowell and Mingo under state intervention. For a perspective on a takeover considered to be a success story, check out this 1996 Education Week article about West Virginia's takeover of Logan County.