Randolph County Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Phares said Tuesday he had been "misunderstood" by a Charleston paper that printed Phares said he had never intended to resign his position.
Phares told The Inter-Mountain last week that he would resign Monday, in light of the state board of education's president saying he wanted Phares to replace Jorea Marple, who was fired in a surprise move Nov. 15.
At Monday's meeting, Phares instead read from a prepared statement and asked the Randolph board to "wait on direction" from the state board.
Dr. James Phares speaks to The Inter-Mountain regarding his resignation.
In a Charleston Daily Mail article Tuesday about the state board situation, however, Phares indicated that he never intended to resign.
"Reached Monday evening, Phares said he had just learned of the decision to postpone discussion about a new superintendent," the Daily Mail article stated. "He also said he had never planned to resign Monday."
In a recorded interview Nov. 16, Phares told The Inter-Mountain the following:
"On Monday night, I'm going to ask the board to accept my resignation. There will be an agenda adjustment coming out this afternoon... My resignation would be effective at the close of business on Wednesday. I'm going to encourage the board to have a special session on Wednesday to appoint an interim replacement until such time that a permanent replacement can be found."
Contacted Tuesday afternoon, Phares told The Inter-Mountain that the Charleston reporter had "misunderstood" his comments while being interviewed for the Daily Mail story.
"I was not accusing The Inter-Mountain of misquoting me," Phares said.
Instead, the superintendent said he had tried to explain to the Charleston paper that he initially planned to resign, but when he learned that the state board's meeting today would not deal with finding a permanent replacement for Marple, he decided not to submit a resignation.
Department of Education officials said this week that the state school board members wanted to focus exclusively on a statewide education efficiency audit during Wednesday's meeting.
State Board President Wade Linger has faced some criticism for saying the day of Marple's firing that he wanted Phares to replace her. Phares confirmed in the Nov. 16 interview with The Inter-Mountain that state board officials reached out to him informally prior to last week.
Phares also told The Inter-Mountain in that interview that the "(Randolph) board was anticipating this. They did have a heads-up that this might occur," Phares said. "They may not have known that it would happen this fast."
Phares acknowledged on Tuesday that things "might have gone too fast" following Marple's firing.
"But I never said it was a done deal," Phares told The Inter-Mountain Tuesday. "I said, if offered, I would accept."
Phares was hired by the Randolph BOE in 2009, and took over the school system when it was under scrutiny from the West Virginia Department of Education and the Office of Education Performance Audit. Phares helped lead the school system through the turmoil, and full accreditation was eventually given to the system.