West Virginia Board Of Education Questions Hampshire County School Practices

February 09, 2005

Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education calls for a state of emergency in Hampshire County Schools and unanimously votes to place Hampshire County Schools on non-approval status.  

The Board today learned of questionable financial practices and hiring practices in the Hampshire County District Offices. A team from the Office of Education Performance Audit (OEPA) made an unannounced visit to Hampshire County in January to conduct an education performance audit of the county offices. According to the OEPA report, several violations of state code and West Virginia Board of Education policies have occurred.  

“It is our job as the State Board of Education to ensure that all state hiring and financial procedures are followed,” said State Board President Barbara Fish. “The report that the Board received today from the OEPA sends up a red flag and we must take swift and immediate action. The Board’s key concern is always for the students of West Virginia. The irregularities in Hampshire County must be corrected immediately for their sake.”  

More serious violations include personnel hiring, posting, transfer and payment practices and policies that are inconsistent with requirements; personnel certification requirement deficiencies; finance deficiencies including use of grants; lack of policy development that is consistent with state policies; and lack of proper documentation of county board action.  

“The pattern of disregard for personnel laws in the hiring, assignment and applications for teacher certification is very serious,” said OEPA Executive Director Kenna Seal. “Also disturbing is the use of grant funds for purposes other than authorized in grant applications.”  

To correct the deficiencies in Hampshire County schools the West Virginia Board declared a state of emergency and voted to appoint an improvement consultant team to make recommendations within 60 days for correcting the emergency.  

The Department of Education was also directed today by the Board to investigate the misappropriation by Hampshire County of federal and state grant monies and report all findings back to the Board.  

“I think it is imperative that we find out the expenditures of all state and federal grants and report any findings to the federal government,” said Board Member Lowell Johnson. “We need to know exactly how Hampshire County is using those particular funds.”

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