State Board Names New OEPA Director

November 12, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A long-time educator, leader and advocate of high quality education has been named by the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) as the new director of the Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA). Susan O'Brien of Santa Fe, New Mexico will replace Gus Penix, who is retiring after serving as the director of the OEPA for three years.

O'Brien, a native of West Virginia and former Kanawha County educator, currently serves as the Deputy Director of Educator Quality for the New Mexico Public Education System. In New Mexico, she worked with high level staff and legislators on college and career readiness initiatives. She has also worked as a coordinator of curriculum in New Mexico during which time she implemented programs and strategies within her district that led to national recognition for one of the schools - the 2014 "Gold Medal" from US News & World Report as one of America's Best High Schools.

"A team made up of board members, West Virginia Department of Education staff and other educational stakeholders considered several very strong candidates for the OEPA position," said Board President Gayle Manchin. "After careful consideration, we enthusiastically supported Ms. O'Brien for this position. She brings years of educational leadership, professional development and budgeting expertise to the table."

The mission of the OEPA is to assist the WVBE, the West Virginia Legislature and the governor in establishing and maintaining a quality system of education performance audits. The office conducts reviews to measure the quality of education and the preparation of students based on standards and measures of student, school, and school system performance and progress.

As the state's leading education auditor, the OEPA looks for warning signs and investigates problems at individual schools and county school systems. The problems can be minor ones that are easily corrected to severe ones that require state intervention. Lawmakers created the OEPA in 1998 to assist the state in providing a thorough and efficient system of public schools.

For more information, contact the Office of Communications at 304-558-2699.

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