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Resignation tabled

Phares stays for now; Hudok addresses BOE

December 4, 2012
By Beth Christian Broschart - Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

The agenda for the Randolph County Board of Education's special session meeting Monday contained two items residents were anxious to learn about. The first item was for the potential acceptance of superintendent Dr. James Phares' resignation. The second item was for the potential appointment of an interim superintendent.

These two items were tabled until a later date at Monday's meeting.

Asked by The Inter-Mountain about the situation, Phares said only that he is honored to be considered for the position of West Virginia State Superintendent.

The Randolph County school system was swept into controversy after the state school board fired former State Superintendent Jorea Marple Nov. 15. After her firing, state Board of Education President Wade Linger said he wanted Phares to replace Marple.

Phares told The Inter-Mountain on Nov. 16 that he would resign at the next Randolph BOE meeting. At that meeting, Phares instead read from a prepared statement and asked the Randolph board to "wait on direction" from the state board.

Phares told The Inter-Mountain Nov. 27 that the state board had requested him to be present at its Nov. 29 meeting, saying the board would have "a review of (his) candidacy for state superintendent" at that time.

Although the Nov. 29 agenda contained an item listed as "Oath of Office," no oath was administered. Phares did not appear at the board meeting, and his name was not mentioned.

In other board news:

Pickens School senior Olivia Hudok addressed board members Monday regarding a prior request to allow her to attend her senior prom and graduation.

"As you know I have been home-bound for more than one month because of my refusal to take vaccinations," Hudok said. "These events are important to me. I need to know if I will be allowed to attend them so I can begin making preparations."

Phares told Hudok, "I have been advised by counsel to wait until I am advised by them because we are still in negotiations with the Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia Department of Education.

"I would advise you to speak with Patrick Lane (the Hudok's lawyer)," Phares said.

Hudok was told by officials in September that she is not to return to school because of her refusal to receive mandatory immunizations.

She and her father, Phil Hudok, filed a complaint against the Randolph County Board of Education and Phares Sept. 11. They asked for a religious exemption allowing her to return to school.

On Sept. 28, Circuit Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong ordered the school system to provide educational services for Olivia Hudok until there was a final resolution in the Kanawha County Circuit Court, where there was a legal challenge to the state's Department of Health and Human Resources' interpretive rule that all seventh- and 12th-graders receive Tdap and MCV4 booster vaccinations.

On Oct. 17, the Kanawha County Circuit Court upheld the interpretive rule.

Wilfong then ordered in November that the Randolph County School System must still provide homebound educational services to Hudok.

Phil Hudok spoke with board members at the Oct. 1 board meeting requesting his daughter be allowed to attend the prom, graduation and other functions.

He told board members then that he'd received a memo from Phares and one from Diane Betler, the Pickens principal.

Phil Hudok said the memos informed him that Olivia is not allowed on school grounds for any activities, including 4-H meetings, her prom and her graduation.

Phil Hudok inquired at the Oct. 1 meeting why guest speakers for the 4-H Club were not held to the same standards.

He reminded the board that no one checks on their immunization records and asked if this was fair.

He said he checked with his attorney and was told the vaccine requirements only include the first round of shots for a visitor.

Phil Hudok questioned why his daughter should be held to different standards.



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