The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) addressed Special Circumstance Reviews in two counties during its January meeting in Charleston at their latest meeting. The state of emergency for Lincoln County Schools was lifted, and the county was granted full approval status. Additionally, the WVBE approved a Special Circumstance Review report for Clay County Schools, the result of an investigation late last year.
The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) initiated the review of Lincoln County in March 2020 citing several areas of non-compliance. The WVBE declared a state of emergency in the county in November 2020 to provide additional supports to address persistent deficiencies.
After extensive involvement, the WVDE Office of Support and Accountability found, while work remains, corrective practices and procedures have been implemented in the county office and with the Lincoln County Board of Education.
“We are returning the keys to Lincoln County and allowing them to drive the car and govern county operations independently,” said WVBE President L. Paul Hardesty. “However, I caution the County Board of Education to not resort back to the practices that caused State Board action because we will step in again if needed.”
The WVDE initiated a Special Circumstance Review of Clay County Schools at the request of the State Superintendent of Schools David L. Roach. The Office of Support and Accountability conducted the review beginning Nov. 30, 2022, to investigate Clay County Board of Education actions, complaints submitted to WVDE, and student performance as indicated by the West Virginia Balanced Scorecard.
The review outlines nine findings and three non-compliances in the areas of Central Office and Local Board Leadership; Principal Leadership; School Improvement Processes and Instruction; Financial Indicator and Purchasing Procedures; and Operation of Federal Programs.
“Clay County has been exceptional in the past, and I believe with the support of our team it will rise again,” said WVBE Member Debra Sullivan. “This area has suffered from the loss of jobs, increased poverty, and other challenges. Student achievement and the college-going rate have dropped precipitously, but I believe the county is committed to turning things around, and we can assist them to overcome the areas identified in the report.”
“The Special Circumstance Review is an important tool in our effort to ensure student achievement and well-being remains the focus of county school systems that operate efficiently, transparently, and within state and federal guidelines,” said Superintendent David L. Roach. “We do not take this process lightly because we know student success is affected when counties are not operating at optimal levels. There is a lot of hard work involved, and the results benefit the students, families, educators and employees of the county ensuring better outcomes for all involved.”
Special Circumstance Review reports are available on the WVDE’s Office of Support and Accountability webpage.
The next regularly scheduled WVBE meeting is 9 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8 in Building 6, Room 600, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Charleston, West Virginia.