“While Hampshire County Schools are doing a fine job with the curriculum for its students, gaps in leadership still remain,” said OEPA Executive Director Kenna Seal. “There are still personnel and financial issues that need to be resolved in the county. Those issues led us to our recommendation of a limited intervention.”
Eight of nine Hampshire County schools have received full or exemplary accreditation however the county as a whole will remain on nonapproval status.
Immediately following the 6 – 1 vote in favor of limited intervention, the Board accepted the following recommendations by West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine:
-That the State Board appointed Cynthia Kolsun, Coordinator in the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Technical and Secondary Program Improvement, to serve as interim superintendent from January 13 – February 20, 2006
-That the state Board limits the authority of the Hampshire County Board related to the expenditure of funds and hiring and firing decisions and delegate that authority to the state Superintendent
-That the state Board delegate the state Superintendent the authority to replace administrators and principals in low performing schools and to transfer them to alternate professional positions within the county
The Hampshire County Board and superintendent have also been asked to provide standards to the state Board by March 2006 that must be met in order for the Hampshire County Board of Education to regain control of the school system.
“We expect this intervention to be short lived,” said Paine. “I also intend to involve the local board in the superintendent search. Hampshire County Board members will still retain control of certain local functions in the operation of the school system.”
A team from OEPA made an unannounced visit to Hampshire County in January 2005 to conduct an education performance audit of the county offices. In February 2005, the Board called for a state of emergency in Hampshire County Schools after learning of questionable financial practices and hiring practices in the Hampshire County District Offices. According to the OEPA report, several violations of state code and West Virginia Board of Education policies occurred. In April 2005, an Improvement Consultant Team (ICT) presented recommendation for the Hampshire County School System which were approved by the state Board. In December 2005 and January 2006, the ICT and OEPA revisited Hampshire County to conduct another audit of the district offices and all county schools. “The Board felt that adequate progress had not been made in correcting all of the deficiencies,” said Board President Lowell Johnson. “This intervention will give the local board the opportunity and assistance needed to move forward.”