The state Board of Education has voted to hire James Phares as West Virginia's new schools superintendent.
The board chose the Randolph County school chief on Wednesday over Kathy D'Antoni, a state assistant superintendent.
"I am optimistic about the future of education in West Virginia and welcome this opportunity to give back to my home state," said Phares. "I look forward to working with students, parents, educators, administrators, higher education, all branches of government, business and the community to make the great strides necessary to transform our school system for the benefit of all students. Together, we can improve the academic opportunities of all West Virginia children."
However, the length of Phares' tenure is unclear. The board also agreed Wednesday to conduct a national search for a long-term superintendent. That plan calls on the Legislature to revisit the job's qualifications and duties.
Phares fielded questions ahead of the vote on topics such as spending, leadership and the much-discussed audit of West Virginia's education system.
"This is an important position for the children of West Virginia," said board President Wade Linger in a news release. "The West Virginia Board of Education is confident Dr. Phares will provide the necessary leadership our public schools need as we move forward with education reforms that advance student achievement and the well-being of our students."
The board also interviewed D'Antoni Wednesday, but behind closed doors.
The board abruptly fired Jorea Marple as superintendent last month. A pending Supreme Court petition challenges her dismissal.
Phares will take over from Charles Heinlein, a deputy superintendent.