Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) heard an update on Logan County Schools during its February meeting today in Charleston. The report outlined ongoing activities and progress since the WVBE intervened in the county last year.
The WVBE authorized the immediate intervention of the Logan County school system on Oct. 27, 2022, as the result of a Special Circumstance Review that began the previous month and resulted in 46 points of non-compliance. Control of the day-to-day operations of the county school system as well as county board operations were placed under the authority of the WVBE and State Superintendent of Schools David L. Roach, who appointed Jeff Huffman as interim county superintendent. Huffman has since received a four-year contract.
Findings of the Review included a lack of oversight for the county’s virtual school program; allegations of a toxic work environment; overuse of executive session at local board meetings; and noncompliance in the areas of finance.
Superintendent Huffman presented the update to the board highlighting several identified areas including (but not limited to):
- Evaluating and prioritizing which programs the county will use to reach strategic plan goals
- Focusing on the West Virginia College and Career Readiness Standards
- Making improvements that lead to conducive and productive school culture and climate
- Ensuring students enrolled in virtual school platforms receive Individual Education Plans (IEP) and interventions as needed
- Conducting all board meetings, discussions and business in open sessions
- Communicating processes, protocols, and procedures to the local board regarding chain of command regarding complaints and concerns
- Requiring contracts appearing on county board agendas to contain the associated services and costs outlined in the contract
Additionally, plans are in place to develop a prioritized list to address facility needs among schools in the county. The Logan County update is available on the WVDE website.
“Our message from day one is we are always looking forward,” said Superintendent Huffman. “As we do this, our students have to be what drives our decisions. We are improving student outcomes and opportunities while also re-establishing trust among our staff throughout the county. Before any change can take place, we had to change the culture to show our people they are needed, valued and respected. We are doing that, and we are seeing a difference.”
“We are seeing change in Logan County. It’s the kind of change we needed to see,” said WVBE President L. Paul Hardesty. “We are letting Superintendent Huffman do his job, and we will continue to do everything we can for the students, teachers and staff in Logan County.”
First Lady Cathy Justice also attended the board meeting to share updates on Communities In Schools (CIS), an initiative she has championed since 2017. The program is administered by the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) and provides site coordinators in the school system to work with students at high risk of dropping out. Through the First Lady’s leadership, CIS has seen continuous expansion and now serves 208 schools in 38 counties and impacts 91,000 students.
Last year, the CIS launched the Friends with Paws program, leading the way for therapy dogs to be placed in 12 counties by April of this year. Data indicates that having therapy dogs in schools assists with addressing the emotional and mental health needs of students.
“West Virginia was the first state to expand CIS into rural settings, so we provided a national model,” said First Lady Justice. “The therapy dogs are having an incredible impact on our children. Along with other CIS program supports, the Friends with Paws program is encouraging regular school attendance and gives us another way to reach and make a difference with our children.”
State Superintendent of Schools David L. Roach also provided an update on the Ready, Read, Write, West Virginia initiative which is the state’s effort to increase literacy proficiency among all students. The WVDE Office of Teaching and Learning and Office of Communications continue to travel the state to build online video and library resources that support educators, administrators and families. The initiative utilizes the science of reading which is built on 30 years of research on how the brain learns to read.
“We are moving with urgency to push supports and resources down to the county and the school levels,” said Superintendent Roach. “Since our launch late last year, we have pulled together the Leaders of Literacy Advisory Council that will help us develop inroads with state and community partners, we are providing county-level supports through our Early Learning Technical Assistance Center partnership at Marshall University, and we are re-designing our e-learning courses to align with the Ready, Read, Write program.”
The WVDE is also developing comprehensive phonics resources for its Ready, Read, Write website, and in-depth professional learning opportunities will be extended to educators throughout the summer. To date, more than 200 school instructional teams have registered to attend these sessions.
To view documents shared at the February meeting, visit the WVDE website.
The next regularly scheduled WVBE meeting is 9 a.m., Wednesday, March 8, 2023, in Building 6, Room 600, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Charleston, West Virginia.
For more information, contact Christy Day, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications, at 304-558-2699 or Christy.Day@k12.wv.us.