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Randolph BOE members respond to filing of petition

November 23, 2012
By Anthony Gaynor Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

Members of the Randolph County Board of Education had mixed reactions to the news that a petition has been filed to block the firing of former State Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple.

Randolph County Schools were thrust into the middle of the debate over the legality of Marple's firing last week when state Board of Education President Wade Linger said he wanted Superintendent Dr. James Phares to be hired as her replacement.

Randolph BOE member Bruce Haddix questioned the legality of the state board's decision to fire Marple on Nov. 15.

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"Usually when you go into an executive session no decisions can be made," Haddix said Wednesday. "You come out and then a board member should have made a motion. It may have been a Sunshine Law violation."

State board members voted 5-2 last Thursday to fire Marple. After Linger's statement about hiring Phares for the state's top education position, Phares confirmed to The Inter-Mountain that if he was offered the job he would accept it.

Phares then announced he planned to resign from his post in Randolph County on Monday, but did not because the state board decided to wait until Nov. 29 to revisit Marple's firing.

"We have to wait and see what happens," Haddix said. "If they want to continue to invite Dr. Phares to be (state) superintendent, then we will have to make a decision."

Randolph BOE member Ed Tyre said he agreed with the decision to fire Marple, but not with the way it was done.

"I don't think Mrs. Marple was the best person for the job," Tyre said. "I don't agree with the way it was handled. They should have put out a notice and it should have been on the meeting agenda."

Tyre echoed Haddix in stating that the local board was in a "holding pattern" to see what happens with the position and Phares.

BOE member Harvey Taylor said he believes the dismissal was legal because Marple worked at will for the state board. He added that if he were Marple and the court granted the petition, he still would not go back.

"I don't know how far the petition will go," Taylor said. "If I was her, I would walk away and not go back."

Taylor said Randolph County Schools must wait and see who the state board hires to fill the position.

"I think Dr. Phares would make a great state superintendent," he said. "We've got to wait and see if they even hire him."

Phone calls to Phares were not returned by press time.



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