In February 2005, the West Virginia board called for a state of emergency in Hampshire County Schools and unanimously voted to place Hampshire County Schools on nonapproval status. The board took the action after reviewing an Office of Education Performance Audit (OEPA) report that highlighted questionable financial practices and hiring practices in the Hampshire County District Offices.
Some of the more serious findings included the discovery that federal migrant grant funds were misspent in 1999 and $35,000 of a $75,000 state grant was misspent. The later misspent funds were ordered returned to the state.
The West Virginia Board of Education intervened in Hampshire County in January 2006 after a second OEPA audit found that financial and personnel problems still existed more than six months after the board first declared a state of emergency.
In 2007, the state board entered into an agreement to return local control to Hampshire County under certain conditions and conditional approval status.
In March 2009 the OEPA team returned to Hampshire County for the last in a series of visits to check county progress in problem areas.
“Overall we found that things were in order in Hampshire,” said OEPA Executive Director Kenna Seal. “I commend county administrators on financial management, hiring and teacher licensure practices. We feel employee relationships are healthy in Hampshire County and professionalism was displayed in the county.”
Hampshire County Board President Bernie Hott credited the board and Department of Education staff for helping the county correct deficiencies.
“I know that when we came here 39 months ago, I vowed we would do what we needed to gain back control,” Hott said. “I cannot thank the state board and Department of Education enough for their guidance as we gained back local control of our schools. We will make you proud.”
McDowell, Lincoln, Mingo, Randolph and Preston counties are currently under state control. For more information about Hampshire County Schools, contact the West Virginia Department of Education Communications Office at 304-558-2699.
A full OEPA report on Hampshire County can be found by visiting http://wvde.state.wv.us/tt/2009/hampshire200904.pdf