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WV Supreme Court will not hear Jorea Marple case

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Attorneys have not yet made a decision how to proceed after the state's highest court decided it would not hear their emergency petition for writ of mandamus concerning the firing of former state school superintendent Jorea Marple.

Mountain State Justice filed the emergency petition for writ of mandamus Nov. 21 on behalf of James and Michelle Hicks, parents of an elementary school-aged student with special needs.

Lydia Milnes, a Mountain State Justice attorney, said they have not yet made a decision how to proceed.

The petition alleges the board's decision will affect the quality of education for their child and asserted Marple's firing was "predetermined in back-room, secret meetings among certain board members."

Marple was hired as the state superintendent of schools in 2011 and was originally fired during a November board meeting.

Board members revisited her employment status during a second meeting in December, but once again decided in a 6-2 vote to terminate her employment.

Marple's attorneys recently notified the West Virginia Board of Education that she planned to sue the board over her termination.  

In the Hicks' motion to file supplemental brief in support of their emergency petition for writ of mandamus, they called the second meeting a "ceremonial and perfunctory ratification of the previous illegal termination."

The motion cited the agenda, which had the oath of office following the reconsideration of termination.

"It is obvious to all who attended the meeting on Nov. 29, that the decision to terminate the superintendent had already been made," the motion states. "By placing items on the agenda that necessarily presupposed the termination of the superintendent, the remedial measures of the board amounted to nothing more than a dog and pony show intended to ceremonially ratify its violation from the Nov. 15 meeting."

The motion also took issue with the board's official statement.

"In its official statement, the board cites the reason for the termination of the superintendent is student achievement and graduation rates in West Virginia," the motion states. "However, the board continued, ‘we are not saying that superintendent Marple is any more responsible than governors, legislators, educators or board members for these shortcomings.' The stated reason for the superintendent's termination is clearly pretext for some other illegitimate reason."