CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education on Wednesday gave Mason County schools one year to address irregularities identified in an onsite review by the Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA).
An OEPA team that visited the county over five days in October found major concerns in leadership, financial practices, personnel hiring practices, missing agendas and board meeting minutes. The audit was requested after the county had not made adequate yearly progress (AYP) in the last five years and other concerns were noted, OEPA director Kenna Seal told the board.
The board agreed with the team’s recommendation to not replace Mason County Superintendent Suzanne Dickens, who has been in her position only since July. The West Virginia Department of Education has an improvement team from the Office of School Improvement scheduled to visit the county in January to provide needed technical and professional support and guidance. Retired state Deputy Superintendent Jack McClanahan also is serving as a consultant to speed improvement.
“The Board of Education has a responsibility to all the students of West Virginia,” said Board President Priscilla Haden. “It is evident that Mason County has some discrepancies that must be addressed. I am hopeful they do so within the window provided.”
The board requested that quarterly updates be provided on the progress made in Mason County Schools.
“I think it is important to point out that there are pockets of excellence in Mason County Schools,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “I am confident that with Mrs. Dickens’ leadership and guidance from the state Department of Education, Mason County will see significant improvement and that the issues identified in the report will be resolved.”
For more information about the Mason County audit, contact Kenna Seal, OEPA executive director, at (304) 558-3788, or the West Virginia Department of Education’s Communications Office at (304) 558-2699.
--The West Virginia Board of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) are committed to ensuring all students in the state are college and career ready when they graduate from a public school. What West Virginia students are learning in school exceeds national and international standards. Through the WVDE’s 21st century learning plan called “Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it.,” West Virginia is seeing better student performance on the West Virginia Educational Standards Test 2 (WESTEST2); the SAT and the ACT college entrance exams; the job skills assessment called Work Keys given to career and technical education students; and in a high school graduation rate that exceeds the national average.
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