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School Employee Suspended For Multiple Code Violations

By Staff | Mar 23, 2011

A school system service employee was suspended without pay by the Wetzel County Board of Education March 21 for alleged multiple violations of the state and county codes of employee conduct in February. The suspension period will run from March 28 through 30.

New Martinsville School parent and PTO President Aimee Gaines asked the board to reconsider its Reduction-in-Force orders for five regular teachers and one reading specialist in the 2011-12 school year.

Under that order, Gaines said class sizes would be at or near the maximum allowable. If a new student comes into the school system at any time during the year, “Our children are pulled from their daily routines and structured settings (and) faced with a new classroom, a new teacher, new routines, and a whole new set of classmates.”

Board Member Willie Baker explained that the layoffs were made necessary by funding reductions from the West Virginia Legislature and were made in areas where they will least affect students. Both he and Board President Mike Blair noted that, while regrettable, reductions are not a reflection of the need for the curriculum or teacher.

Blair also explained that the RIFs were based on projected student population and may be adjusted before school next year to adjust to real time figures. Both members assured Gaines that their concerns would be recognized.

Positions not covered under the legislature’s school-aid funding formula must be paid from local tax revenue. The NMS PTO represents some 900 students.

The board also interviewed a third candidate to succeed Wetzel County Superintendent of School Bill Jones, who will retire June 30. In the public portion of his interview, Francis (Joseph) Super told board members his strongest qualification–honesty–also was his weakest. Sometimes, he noted, people should not ask a question if they don’t want to hear the answer.

Super is superintendent of schools in Pleasants County and has experience from pre-school through 12th grade. A parent himself, Super said teachers should treat their students as if they were their own children. Discipline, he said, should be administered equally “and in a constructive manner.” Super’s term of office In Pleasants County expires June 30.

Blair indicated that Super was the final candidate who will be interviewed before the target date of April 1 to have Jones’ position filled. The board previously interviewed Taylor County Superintendent of Schools Dian Watts and Wetzel County Director of Elementary Education and Title I Deanna L. Myers.

The board passed on second and final reading a policy revision to allow students who achieve mastery or above in a subject on the WesTest II to be exempted from final examinations in that subject the following school year. The new policy became effective immediately.

The board also approved a revised calendar for the current school year that extends from June 1 to June 3 the last day of school for students. The revision was made necessary by snow-day closures. Assistant Superintendent Jay Yeager noted that students would receive 180 days of instruction, as required by state law.

The board voted to approve renewal of an agreement with KOREnergy Ltd. under which natural gas from First Energy is purchased at a cheaper rate on the “spot market.” The energy is used to heat NMS, Magnolia High School, and Short Line School. Other schools in Wetzel County are supplied natural gas from Equitable and Dominion corporations that do not participate in the spot-market pricing agreement. Thirty other county school systems in West Virginia participate in similar programs.

The board approved retirements of Linda Dianne Lemasters as countywide family and consumer science teacher and of Jo Ellen Snider as fourth grade teacher at Long Drain School. Lemasters has been with the school system 29 years, Snider for 31 years.

Also at LDS, the board accepted Beth A. Sigley’s immediate resignation as girls’ track coach and approved Ted G. Sumner to succeed her in that position. Contracted services were approved for Olivia L. Gump, Johanna Lemasters, David L. Pethtel, Mark A. Roberts, and Dawn L. West as LDS After School Tutors funded under Title I. The board approved additional contracted services for Roberts as the Title I Intervention Coordinator.

In other employment or changes in employment, the board approved Jason P. Salva as assistant girls’ track coach at Paden City High School during the 2010-11 WVSSAC season. Salva also is PCHS principal.

In changes for the 2011-12 school year, the board approved employment of Hannah M. Morris as mathematics instructor at Valley High School, pending her graduation and teaching certification.

At NMS, the board approved a change in Aaron E. Vigliotti’s assignment from fifth grade to third grade and a change for Bonnie A. Martin from a countywide supervisory teacher aid based at MHS to a similar position at NMS.

At Paden City Elementary School, the board approved a change in assignment for Jill C. Householder as a countywide teacher aide based at SLS to a similar position based at PCES and the Wetzel County Center for Children and Families.

Also for next school year, Kevin L. Durig’s bus operator assignment was changed from the Silver Hill bus route aboard Bus #26 to the Huff/Schupbach/American Ridge route with Bus #27.

The board approved a request from VHS student Codie Leek to attend school on a half-time basis for the remainder of the school year. The request had the endorsement of VHS Principal Benjamin McPherson and stipulated that the student accumulate sufficient credit hours for graduation.

Out-of-state trip requests from Dana Gerenyi, Barbara Blain, Elizabeth Heistand, Amy Littell, and Anita Howell to take special needs students at NMS to the Pittsburgh Zoo May 10, with expenses paid from special education funds. In addition, the board approved a request from Jeanine Watson to take Hundred High School students to Pittsburgh for a performance of “Shrek” on March 16. Funding for the trip will be paid through a field trip grant from Target.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m., April 4, at the board offices, 333 Foundry St., New Martinsville.