G-LtE™: Same-o’ Same-o’, Wrong Decisions, Wrong Reasons
It’s good to take a look at the history of Lincoln County when talking about state intervention and school consolidation. Lincoln County was at the heart of the May 1982 Pauley v. Bailey school financing case.
It started in the 1970’s when a Lincoln County mother of 5 saw a crumbling school with broken windows, broken chairs and an open sewer running onto the playground while attending a PTA meeting and had enough. As a result, Ohio County Circuit Judge Arthur Recht ruled three decades ago that West Virginia’s system of financing public education was unconstitutional and did not create a “thorough and efficient” education system. Recht ordered an overhaul of the education system, the creation of measurable performance standards and a mechanism to equalize educational opportunities between rich and poor counties.
The 1982 Recht decision took years to implement, but it spurred the creation of the state School Building Authority (SBA) to oversee major school construction projects throughout West Virginia, the Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA) to monitor schools’ progress, and worked to equalize pay and tweak the state’s school aid funding formula. What he didn’t say was who was going to enforce it.
Three decades later, with all the talk of how the Recht decision had revamped West Virginia’s education system, one $30 million consolidated Lincoln County High School and a little remodeling did not begin to solve the problems of education faced by Lincoln County.
It won’t solve anything for Gilmer County either and we’ll see far less than that. Aside from a smattering of shiny state-of-the art facilities using primarily federal funds, (the term state of the art is debatable), not a whole lot in the state’s school system has changed for the better. Little to no effort has been put toward the real root of our problem. At the top of the list, retaining and recruiting high-quality teachers remains a concern. Put that in conjunction with the repeated statistical failure of the majority of West Virginia students per federal level comparisons and it’s easy to see not much has changed at all.
In Lincoln County’s case the State Board of Education kept control for twelve years. Although returned to local board control in December 2012 citizens expressed their frustration by failing a school bond levy by 75% this month that would have consolidated two more schools despite threats that the state would not hesitate to intervene at anytime they feel the Lincoln County Board of Ed are not “progressing”. After twelve years it would seem threats have a hollow ring to the ears of Lincoln County taxpayers who have always passed an excess levy for their schools. That excess levy expires in 2014. It will be interesting to see the State BOE response to the bond issue failure given that fact. Who will they blame?
Lincoln County followed the rules yet their own Delegate Stowers posted “ less than stellar” results being recorded while the county school system was under state control including a lower graduation rate, a lower college attendance rate and longer bus drives causing increased cost of operations, all correlating with a higher drop out rate. Eight years into state control he acknowledged that their citizen “votes and voices meant nothing” and that the state could do “whatever they want” with tax dollars and close schools despite Lincoln biting the bullet on consolidation, cooperating and embracing state direction. He went on to say that the people had” lost patience, hope and tolerance” with an “experiment that did not prove to be worth all that it claimed”.
If recent reports on the Charleston Gazette are any indication, State BOE intervention in county school systems will continue to increase according to none other than ex-Lincoln County state Senator and current State BOE Board member Lloyd Jackson. Mr. Jackson, previously on the board for eight months under then Governor Bob Wise, was reappointed to that board by Governor Elector Earl Ray Tomblin in November 2011. He has said that fiscal difficulty “ is the number-one symptom of counties you have to take over. You’ve got to catch these things quickly because if you let them get out of control, get ready to take them over because this is where it starts,” Burdened by endless, cumbersome and impractical state BOE policies more of our school systems are seeing red ink on a regular basis.
Though seemingly happy to see Lincoln County regain control of its school system Jackson was quick to let his home BOE know, that although the county once again had control of the school system,” it has to make sure it keep doing what it’s doing in order to prevent similar takeovers from happening again.” A sobering thought indeed. Seems no matter what an intervention county does that threat will always be there until and unless Governor Tomlin finds the courage to take over his appointed board and return authority to the counties who must take responsibility for their schools and the education of students. It is not a job than can be done effectively long distance as West Virginia’s repeated failure nationwide has shown.
Of all that’s been said on the subject of takeover or “intervention” counties, comments by Joe Panetta, superintendent of finance for the Department of Education are perhaps most disturbing of all. The Charleston Gazette reports, “the state’s intervention will continue to increase in county school systems that face financial hardships, as state officials will perform monthly analyses and provide recommendations about how to reduce expenditures according to Mr. Panetta. “We are taking a more active role in providing assistance and monitoring counties’ financial status,“ he said. “These are things we haven’t required in the past.“ That speaks volumes to what has happened in many WV Counties. The WV State Board of Ed mandates spending on RESA, and buildings, and technology and hand picked vendors but has no clue if the local boards can come up with the money. They didn’t ask.
Gilmer County taxpayers were well aware that their county school system was operating in the black before state intervention. By the state’s own admission this was due only to our local Board of Eds exercising due diligence. Given Mr. Panetta’s statements, we now have every reason to fear that our school system may not be in the same financial condition when the state BOE finishes this “emergency takeover” due to a facilities emergency that leaves the children in the same buildings two years later. Or maybe they should just call it forced regionalization and consolidation and call a spade a shovel. One thing is certain; they won’t say they intervened to provide the ultimate aphrodisiac, personal and political power, to old cronies.
~~ AUTHOR ON FILE ~~
Calhoun County Judge Orders Evaluation for Woman Charged with Murdering Her Infant
Imprisonment Status: Pre-Trial Felon
||Kreh, Ashley Nicole
||Central Regional Jail
Offender Court Order Information
|Court Info Number
||Issuing Agency Location
||CALHOUN COUNTY - Bail Amount: $750,000.00
||BRAXTON COUNTY - Bail Amount: $5,000.00
||BRAXTON COUNTY - Bail Amount: $25,000.00
|Calhoun County woman was indicted for the death of her infant daughter earlier this year.|
Calhoun County judge ordered a 60-day evaluation instead of
sentencing on Monday, February 25, 2013.
she was charged with murder and child abuse resulting in the death of her 2-month-old girl.
Autopsy results showed the infant died of blunt force trauma to the head in February 2012.
The infant had sustained a skull fracture and a broken arm.
The infant died a couple of days later.
If convicted, she could face between 10 and 40 years in prison.
She told the Calhoun County judge that she was sorry!
Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 02.25.13
Chief Judge Richard A. Facemire conducted a full morning of hearings in Gilmer County on his motion day, Monday, February 25, 2013.
• He heard 3 fugitive from justice cases with, Andrew Roper waiving extradition to return to New York, James Greer waived to return to Pennsylvania and Kevin Robinson waived to return to Maryland.
All 3 individuals were represented by Daniel Armstrong of Gassaway and authorities in their states have until 4:00 PM on Wednesday, March 06, 2013 to pick them up at Central Regional Jail or they will be released.
Several juvenile matters were heard and reset as follows:
• One on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 9:00 AM, one at 9:05 AM, one at 9:10 AM and one at 9:15 AM.
• Another juvenile will be heard on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 9:40 AM.
• Another juvenile will be heard on Friday, May 03, 2013 at 9:00 AM.
• Another will be heard on Monday, March 25, 2013 at 10:00AM.
• The civil case of Discover Bank vs. Jacob Dennison was before the Court asking leave to file an amended complaint against defendant, which motion was granted.
• The civil case of Educap vs. Gary B. Jenkins and Charley Gregory was also before the Court for hearing.
Plaintiffs have 60 days to provide an itemized list of charges to defendant and the matter was reset for Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 9:30 AM.
• A modification of child support hearing was before the Court and was granted due to the defendant being incarcerated in Central Regional Jail.
• State of West Virginia vs. Casey Cottrill
She was before the Court asking for reconsideration of long term inpatient rehab, which motion Judge Facemire denied.
He said he would not approve outpatient rehab and ordered her to spend at least 6 months at an inpatient facility.
She did not appear for the hearing as she had an emergency involving her children, but her attorney Garth Beck appeared by telephone.
• State of West Virginia vs. Alecia Wine
She was before the Court asking for release from home confinement.
She was represented by her attorney, Clinton Bischoff of Summersville and Judge Facemire granted her motion.
• One name change petition was granted, changing Jodie Turner‘s name to Jodie Paugh.
• Several other orders were entered removing cases from the active docket of the Court.
Judge Facemire will return to Gilmer County on Tuesday, March 05, 2013 for docket call to set criminal cases for the term.
GRAND JURY HAS BEEN CANCELLED FOR THE MARCH, 2013 TERM.
Magistrate Pay Raise Clash May Set Tone for West Virginia House
At least some Republicans in West Virginia’s House of Delegates believe their failed bid to block proposed magistrate court pay raises, and similar partisan clashes that are expected as the session continues, will pay off in the next election.
The GOP’s net 11-seat gain in November, increasing their ranks to 46 of 100 delegates, proved insufficient when the House voted 53-45 Wednesday to pass the pay bill to the Senate. With two Democrats absent, two Republicans broke ranks to support the measure while one Democrat opposed it.
A similarly narrow vote spoiled a Monday attempt by Republicans to derail the bill through a parliamentary procedure. With the session not even two weeks old, the pair of pitched battles over this measure may set the session’s tempo for the divided House.
“Is this the way this session is going to be, all year?” House Majority Whip Mike Caputo asked in a floor speech blasting Republicans over Monday’s unsuccessful gambit. The Marion County Democrat also said that he had never before seen that parliamentary motion attempted in his 17 years in the Legislature.
But that tone may work fine for Republicans seeking to add to their recent gains in 2014, and perhaps erase the Democrats’ majority after 82 years.
Delegate Larry Faircloth emailed fellow GOP lawmakers ahead of Wednesday’s vote to tout a game plan with an eye to the next election.
A copy of the email was forwarded to The Associated Press. The Berkeley County freshman wrote that party allies had sent a press release to more than 40,000 state voters, to spur them to warn bill supporters that they would vote for their opponents in two years if they helped pass the bill.
Faircloth referred to the online campaign as an Internet “sniper attack” in his email.
“(It’s) used to reach a point anonymously and efficiently without getting (one’s) hands dirty,” the email said.
House officials on Friday said they were unaware of an unusual volume of emails or phone calls to Democratic lawmakers before the vote. Asked about his email, Faircloth estimated that he fielded around 30 such contacts.
“I assured them that I was against it,” Faircloth said Thursday. “I’ve heard through constituents in conversation that many others received emails and phone calls as well.”
Party-line fights aren’t new for the House. Starting with the 2006 session, GOP delegates have repeatedly sought to force measures idling in committees toward votes on passage through parliamentary procedures.
Topics of these discharge motions have included abortion, gay marriage and taxes. House Republicans lacked the numbers to prevail in any of these attempts — but they then became fodder for election attack ads.
The GOP has targeted the magistrate pay bill as ill-timed, given a lean budget picture that led to recent cuts totaling $75 million. The House Republicans also have declared jobs the top priority of their agenda this session. During Wednesday’s debate, they questioned how hiking the pay of elected officials and public employees helps the nearly 60,000 West Virginians seeking work.
Democrats argued that such talk amounted to grandstanding. They also cited several pending GOP-sponsored bills that would increase the budget, and recent requests from Republican delegates for special funding for district projects.
“This has nothing to do with unemployment. We can’t change that by this bill whether we pass it or not,” said House Judiciary Chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison. “What concerns me the most is you want to vote against things that occur in other people’s counties while you have your hand out for your own county.”
While not a major session topic, raising magistrate court pay has been a recurring issue in recent years after the 2010 Census showed population declines in a handful of the 55 counties. As pay is linked to population, the resulting drop in court salaries has spurred a push to equalize all pay — at the high end of the current scale.
The state Supreme Court estimates the increased pay and benefits would cost $737,000, but also says it already has the needed money. The five justices have endorsed the bill, and Chief Justice Brent Benjamin — a Republican — is scheduled to discuss the court’s budget before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday.
Gilmer County Family Court Report – 02.13.13
Family Court Judge Larry Whited held Family Court on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 and heard several matters as follows:
• Two domestic violence cases were continued.
• One divorce was granted as follow: Alyssa Waddell (33) of Weston, WV divorced Brent Waddell (24) of Glenville, WV on February 13, 2013.
• One domestic violence case was dismissed for failure of petitioner to appear at beating.
• Another domestic violence was continued with an order of publication issued.
• A final hearing was heard in another divorce but attorneys were involved in the matter so no final outer has yet been entered.
Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 02.13.13
On Monday, February 11, 2013 Judge Jack Alsop held his regular monthly motion day in Gilmer County.
• Five juvenile cases ware heard and reset as follows:
Four for Monday, April 08, 2013 at 10:00, 10:10, 10:20 and 10:30 AM and the fifth juvenile case was dismissed.
• State of West Virginia vs. Randall Lambey
He was before the Court for pre-trial motions and his attorney, Daniel Grindo of Gassaway, asked to be relieved from representing him due to a conflict that he had recently discovered.
Grindo had represented another party in this matter previously and Judge Alsop also felt that since Mrs. Grindo works for the Child Advocate Bureau this might also pose another conflict.
Thus Grindo was relieved and Judge Alsop appointed Christina Flanigan of Buckhannon to represent Lambey in the future.
His trial was also continued to the March, 2013 term of Court.
• State of West Virginia vs. Gerald Adkins II
He was before the Court and pled to 2 counts of his 11 count indictment, being count 1-forgery and a lesser included offense in count 11-petit larceny.
The prosecuting attorney, Gerry Hough moved to dismiss the remaining 9 counts of the indictments.
Adkins will be sentenced on Monday, April 08, 2013 at 10:30 AM.
He was represented by Grindo for the plea hearing.
• State of West Virginia vs. Daniel Riffle
He was before the Court to answer a 2002 indictment handed down against him.
He had turned himself in previous week after discovering there was an active warrant out for his arrest on this charge.
He asked for a court appointed attorney and Judge Alsop appointed Grindo to represent him.
However, upon reading the indictment to the defendant Judge Alsop discovered it was flawed.
Gerry Hough made a motion to amend the indictment, to which motion Grindo objected and Judge Alsop dismissed the indictment without prejudice to the state of West Virginia.
• The trial of State of West Virginia vs. Shane Posey was set for Tuesday, February 11, 2013, but instead a motion to continue to next term will be heard at that time.
All petit/magistrate jurors for the November term were dismissed since all cases set for trial in February have either pled or been dismissed.
• A magistrate trial scheduled for Friday, February 15, 2013 before Magistrate Wolfe was also settled and no jury trial was held.
• The Circuit Clerk thanks all jurors from the November term for their service.
Jury questionnaires are in the mail for March grand and petit jury.
Please complete and return them as soon as possible to the Circuit Clerk Office.
• On Tuesday, February 12, 2013, Judge Alsop took a plea in the case of State of West Virginia vs. Rodney Singleton at 11:45 AM.
Singleton was represented by privately retained attorney Jerome Novobilski from Clay.
He pled guilty to count 1 of the indictment charging 3rd offense domestic battery and guilty to unlawful wounding, a lesser included offense in count 2 of the indictment.
Nine remaining counts of the indictment were dismissed upon motion of the Prosecuting Attorney.
Sentencing will be held on Monday, March 11, 2013 at 10:30 AM.
• The motion to continue the trial of Shane Posey was heard and granted.
A multi county plea agreement is being considered in the case.
He will need to appear on Monday, February 25, 2013 before Chief Judge Richard A. Facemire for setting of the docket for the upcoming March, 2013 term.
• A juvenile rawer was heard and reset for Monday, April 08, 2013 at 10:45 AM.
WV Board of Education Sued by Fired Superintendent Marple
West Virginia Board of Education is being sued over its decision to fire former state school Superintendent Jorea Marple.
The lawsuit was filed Friday afternoon in Kanawha County Circuit Court.
Marple’s attorney Tim Barber says the board’s November14, 2012 decision was done in secret and brought to a close a nine-month effort by school board President Wade Linger to get rid of Marple.
Barber says Marple was denied the due process guaranteed her in both the U.S. and West Virginia Constitutions.
“You may bring charges against somebody. You put them in writing. You give them an opportunity to read that, to have a lawyer, to have a hearing in front of an independent tribunal. That’s how you do that,” Barber said. “That never was done. It’s completely absolutely at odds with every piece of jurisprudence there is.”
Barber says Linger and his allies threw Marple out for no reason. He says it is an outrage.
“How can you do that?” Barber asked.
Lawsuit alleges state Board of Education President Wade Linger worked for nine months behind the scenes to fire Marple.
He says Linger was working behind the scenes to fire Marple even during a review of the former superintendent last summer when she was given glowing marks.
“Not a word. Not by Linger or any other board member ever said anything negative at all to her. Never brought anything up to her at all until they go into executive session on November14 and throw her out,” Barber said.
The lawsuit seeks among other things, compensatory and punitive damages, a full hearing to establish the exact charges as to why Marple was fired and a jury trial where applicable.
Barber added he found Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s State of State of Address earlier this week on education reform amusing.
“Every single line, every word, everything that they propose Dr. Marple had addressed that before she was dumped by this board,” Barber said. “For them to have this to be some revolutionary thing that is wonderful is a joke.”
To Read the Lawsuit Click H E R E.
WV AG Files Brief in Gun Case Pending before U.S. SUPREME COURT
West Virginia joins 19 other states in filing friend of the court brief supporting the Second Amendment
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced that West Virginia has joined with 19 other states this week in filing a “friend of the court” brief in a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. The lawsuit concerns the constitutionality of a New York statute that limits an individual’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.
The lawsuit, Kachalsky v. Cacace, challenges a New York law that requires a person to show a particular need to obtain a permit to carry a firearm outside the home. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law, ruling that the Second Amendment’s core protections do not extend outside of the home. Attorney General Morrisey said the Second Circuit’s decision is troublesome because it concludes the Second Amendment’s protections end at a person’s front door.
In 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a District of Columbia law that banned the private ownership of handguns. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court held that the Second Amendment protects a law-abiding individual’s right to keep and bear arms for self-defense
“The Supreme Court’s decision in Heller recognizes that a law-abiding individual has the right to bear arms for self-defense. Under the text of the Second Amendment itself, this right necessarily extends outside of the home,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “We have the right to ‘keep and bear arms’; one ‘keeps’ arms inside the home, but one ‘bears’ arms outside of the home. Any ruling to the contrary simply ignores this plain language.”
Attorney General Morrisey said the Second Circuit’s decision in the Kachalsky case runs counter to the Supreme Court’s instruction in the Heller case that the text, history, and tradition of a law should determine whether it passes Second Amendment muster.
“The Kachalsky decision affects West Virginians because the Second Circuit’s interpretation of the scope of the Second Amendment was incorrect, and that decision could impact future court decisions. Such a narrow view of the Second Amendment will chip away at this core constitutional right,” Morrisey said. “The Second Circuit’s decision also affects West Virginians in a more narrow sense, particularly when it comes to West Virginia’s reciprocity agreements with other states. The ability of other States to restrict law-abiding citizens to carry weapons outside of the home means that the permits issued in West Virginia will not be recognized in those States.”
Lewis County: Missing Little Girl’s Mom Loses All Parental Rights
The mother of a 3-year-old West Virginia girl who vanished without a trace in September 2011 will not regain custody of her other six children when she gets out of prison later this month.
The West Virginia Supreme Court this week unanimously upheld a Lewis County judge’s order terminating Lena Lunsford’s parental rights — a decision backed by child welfare workers and the unidentified father of one of the children.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons website shows Lena Lunsford is set to be released February 26, 2013 from a facility in Baltimore, MD where she has been serving an eight-month sentence for welfare fraud.
The high court’s ruling notes that the Lewis County court also terminated the parental rights of Ralph Lunsford, whom one of Lena’s attorneys had previously described as Aliayah’s stepfather. While Ralph Lunsford is identified as the father of “most” of Lena’s children, the ruling says one, identified only as T.C., was fathered by another man.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources filed an abuse and neglect petition with the courts in October 2011, alleging the Lunsfords’ remaining children were in imminent danger. They had been neglected to the point that some had irreversible tooth decay, case workers said.
That complaint also noted that Lena Lunsford had previously reported to DHHR that her husband had attempted to cut her throat, “yet she and the children continued to live with him.“
At a termination hearing in May 2012, the circuit court judge “found that the parents had more knowledge about A.L.‘s whereabouts than they revealed but refused to provide that information to the court,“ the high court wrote.
Lena Lunsford fought for her children, arguing that “evidence was not clear and convincing that she harmed or threatened her children’s well-being,“ and that she appropriately notified police when she couldn’t find her daughter.
But the Supreme Court cited witnesses who say she gave conflicting statements about Aliayah’s disappearance and noted that she and Ralph Lunsford have “vaguely accused” each other in the 16 months since.
Lena Lunsford’s lawyers also argued that the circuit judge erred in deciding there was “no reasonable likelihood” that the abuse and neglect would stop under a court-supervised improvement period.
The DHHR successfully argued that without an explanation of Aliayah’s disappearance, “there can be no assurance that the other children in the home can be safe in their parents’ care.“
Aliayah disappeared September 24, 2011 from a rented home near Bendale. She has never been found.
Lena Lunsford told police her daughter had been ill and was vomiting the night before. Aliayah was in her bed at 6:30 AM, her mother claimed, but missing when she went to check on her a few hours later.
Authorities have made no arrests and identified no suspects. The FBI has refused to say whether agents believe Aliayah is still alive, but it has offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to her recovery or an arrest.
Lena Lunsford was indicted weeks after Aliayah’s disappearance on charges that she illegally swapped welfare benefits for cash five times in two months. She pleaded guilty to selling $114 worth of credit on her food-stamp card for $50 cash and reported to prison last June.
During one of the hearings in that case, a judge ordered her to live apart from Ralph Lunsford after he acknowledged on the witness stand that he had bought and used synthetic drugs called bath salts that are known to cause extreme agitation, hallucinations and violent and bizarre behavior.
Ralph Lunsford also acknowledged in his testimony that police had considered him a person of interest and repeatedly questioned him in Aliayah’s disappearance.
Lena Lunsford gave birth to twins after Aliayah disappeared and before she went to prison. They were taken into state custody with the other children. She later filed for divorce.
Magistrate Reduces Bond for ‘BUCKWILD’ Cast Member
Imprisonment Status: Pre-Trial Felon
||Central Regional Jail
Offender Court Order Information
|Court Info Number
||Issuing Agency Location
NICHOLAS COUNTY - Bail Amount:
$200,000.00 - $100,000.00
A Nicholas County magistrate has cut reality show “BUCKWILD” cast member Salwa Amin’s bond in half.
The 24-year-old Amin had been held on $200,000 bond at the Central Regional Jail since her arrest late Sunday night.
She is charged with two counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.
Her lawyer, Michael Callaghan, says Amin’s bond was reduced Wednesday to $100,000 cash.
She waived a preliminary hearing.
Callaghan says he expects Amin to be released within a day or so.
He says they will address the charges at the appropriate time.
West Virginia State Police say a multi-agency task force arrested Amin and two other people at a Summersville residence after receiving a tip from an informant.
A search found oxycodone pills, heroin and $3,000 in cash.
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