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Grace Seeks Board Position

By Staff | Dec 8, 2015

At the Monday, Dec. 7 meeting of the Wetzel County Board of Education, Wetzel County resident Warren Grace asked the board to consider him for the interim board position, left vacant by former board member Bob Patterson.

Grace informed the board that he is a United States Navy Veteran, graduate of West Virginia University, and former administrator at Wetzel County Schools.

Grace said he is married to his wife, Judy, and has raised two children, both of whom were educated at New Martinsville and Magnolia High Schools.

Grace said he has worked long term interim positions in all four Wetzel County Schools, since his retirement. Therefore, he said, he knows many of the students, personnel, and needs of the schools.

“I’m familiar with the role and responsibility of board membership and leadership, and I feel that I can play a very constructive role as a member of the Wetzel County Board of Education,” Grace noted.

Grace added that he intends to run for the board of education in May 2016.

Patterson tendered his resignation to the board Nov. 25, citing that the turmoil in the school system “during this time of change in leaderhsip has resulted in animosity, contention, false accusations, and a stalemate of philosophies which negatively affects the students of Wetzel County.”

Patterson’s resignation came after a Wetzel County student alleged that Patterson used inappropriate language toward (the student) after a board meeting.

At the Nov. 16 board meeting, in which Patterson did not attend, the student’s mother, Johnna Harter, had stated she had filed a claim with the West Virginia Board of Ethics. She also stated that she would be circulating a petition, calling for the removal of Patterson from his board position. Patterson had approached the Wetzel Chronicle earlier in the day on Nov. 16 and issued a public apology. He said he had used an inappropriate term but it was not directed toward the student.

Resident Dawn Greathouse also spoke at Monday night’s board meeting.

Greathouse said that she and her husband have a son who is a third grader at New Martinsville School.

Greathouse said she had been following the on-goings of the schoool board meetings through the Wetzel Chronicle and had various concerns.

She questioned why Wetzel County Schools needed instructional coaches, which were supposedly hired to support teachers. Furthermore, Greathouse added, the instructional teachers were never named, nor was it ever stated where they would be located.

“Why are they necessary when we have qualified teachers?” Greathouse questioned.

Greathouse also questioned the use of “school climate surveys,” which were supposedly given to all parents and students. “I never received that,” she stated, further questioning who took part in the survey and what the purpose of the survey was.

Greathouse also questioned testing which was previously mentioned as possibly occurring in April or May.

After she spoke to the board, Greathouse paused and then noted to the board that she had never been to a board meeting and was unsure as to whether she could expect an answer.

Superintendent Leatha Williams told Greathouse to schedule a meeting and the items could be discussed.

Greathouse then further remarked that she had felt that some of the statements allegedly made to teachers who did not agree with Williams’ new standards was bullying. Greathouse referenced a statement that several teachers, at past board meetings, have claimed Williams has said, in which Williams said teachers could “resign, relocate, or retire.”

“I look at the signs posted on the wall in my son’s school, and it says we aren’t to bully. To me, that is bullying. If we are expecting that out of children, I would expect the same from board members and principals.”

In another matter, parent Christy Stapel spoke out in concern regarding the shortage of substitute teachers.

Stapel explained that one day last week, the schools were short 16 substitutes. Stapel attributed the shortage of teachers to instructional development.

Stapel said she takes no issue with instructional development, but “why take from both the math and science departments in the same day.”

“That’s a lot of teachers, and that is a lot of instructional hours missed,” Stapel said, adding that a noncertified substitute is better than a teacher being in a classroom of 30 kids.

“My problem is that if you look at the sub list, it is over half made up of retired teachers. A retired teacher does not want to sub 15 to 20 days a month, and they cannot sub that much because it is hurting their own social security.”

Stapel asked the board if they were aware of the shortage situation and “if something will be done so our children aren’t suffering.”

The board did not address Stapel’s concerns.