UPDATE: Richwood Residents File Motion in Nicholas County BOE La - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Richwood Residents File Motion in Nicholas County BOE Lawsuit Against WV

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UPDATE 7/9/17 (8:00 PM)

Attorneys that represented Richwood residents in a lawsuit against the Nicholas County Board of Education, have now filed a motion in the Board's suit against the state. Bob Bastress represented several Richwood residents in a suit alleging the Nicholas Board violated open meeting laws. That case has since been settled by Judge James Rowe who ruled the Board did not violate open meeting laws. 

Now, Bastress has filed a Motion to Intervene on behalf of several other Richwood residents, stating the residents have a legitimate defense to the Nicholas County Board of Education's claims in it's lawsuit. The Nicholas Board filed suit earlier this month naming the state Board of Education, Governor Jim Justice and others. The suit claims Governor Justice pressured officials to deny Nicholas County's request for consolidation. 

Court documents can seen here:

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UPDATE 7/1/17 (4:00 PM)

NICHOLAS COUNTY (AP)- A West Virginia county school board has sued the state over allegations that Gov. Jim Justice used intermediaries to pressure officials into arbitrarily denying a school consolidation plan.

According to The Charleston Gazette-Mail , the Nicholas County school board filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court against the state Board of Education and Schools Superintendent Steve Paine.

Justice spokesman Grant Herring said the governor stayed completely out of the state Board of Education's decision to deny the consolidation request.

The plan would have merged two middle schools, two high schools and a vocational center into a consolidated campus near Summersville using Federal Emergency Management Agency money from deadly 2016 floods.

Richwood Middle, Richwood High and Summersville Middle were closed after damages from the floods.

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UPDATE 6/21/17 (11:00PM)

West Virginia has been granted an extension to make a final decision on the Nicholas County Schools matter.

Without an extension, the county would have lost all FEMA money this weekend. FEMA rules require final work papers be submitted through the School Building Authority by June 25th. However, the school issue is left in limbo after the West Virginia Board of Education voted to deny Nicholas County's plan to consolidate. 

Nicholas County's Board of Education will now have six months to decide on a plan and get it approved by the state Board. After state Board of Education approval, the county will work with the School Building Authority to adjust paperwork with FEMA.

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UPDATE 6/15/17 

School board members in a West Virginia county ravaged by the 2016 floods have voted to take legal action to contest the state board’s rejection of a plan to consolidate five schools onto one campus.

The Nicholas County Board of Education made the decision Wednesday after the state Board of Education voted 7-1 Tuesday to reject the county’s proposed consolidation plan.

After Richwood High School and two middle schools were destroyed by flooding, the plan proposed closing the three schools, Nicholas County High School and the county vocational center and consolidating them onto one campus near Summersville.

The county superintendent will receive alternatives from community members by June 28.

Federal Emergency Management Agency representative Steve Ward says FEMA cannot spend any money to rebuild schools on a flood plain.

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UPDATE 6/13/17 (11:00PM)

The West Virginia Board of Education is denying Nicholas County's request to consolidate it's schools.

The Nicholas County Board of Education voted back in March to close five schools and open two new reconfigured buildings. But Tuesday night the state offered a possible new plan and sent the county back to the drawing board.

"The board believes sufficient alternatives and possibilities have not been explored to be assured this plan is in the best interest of students in Nicholas County," West Virginia Board of Education Vice President David Perry said at the conclusion of the meeting.

This was the final box Nicholas needed to check before working with FEMA to start building a new consolidated middle and high school. It's a plan the Board asserts is the best option for spending future tax dollars. 

"if you own 3 homes and you couldn't afford all 3 homes what would you do? You'd probably sell a couple of them and improve the one that you had left," Nicholas County Board member A.J. Rogers said to the state.

The State Board questioned Nicholas County's superintendent and Board on long bus routes, animosity between cities and the economic impact of pulling two schools out of Richwood. 

"This impact of consolidation will have an economic injustice on our businesses. Not just our businesses, the gas stations, the utility companies, it trickles down," "anti-consolidation" supporter Shannon Glasscock said.

But the big question from the board- why Nicholas County didn't seriously consider rebuilding schools in Richwood. 

"A small tight-knit community and small school is such a great opportunity for anyone to experience. I would highly recommend that the Board take the opinion of the students today and the best welfare of the students. Think about all of us kids and when you vote today put your pen to paper for students like me," Kendra Amick, 2017 graduate of Richwood High School said. 

The Board is instead asking Nicholas County to consider building a consolidated Middle and High school in Richwood and another in Summersville, with a Votech program at each facility. 

The Nicholas County Superintendent had previously threatened to sue the state if the Nicholas consolidation plan was not approved, but it's not clear if that is still the Board's position. 

West Virginia has requested a 6-month extension with FEMA to work out the details of the school matter.

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) - The West Virginia State Board of Education has voted to deny consolidation in the Nicholas County case.

The state Board of Education is now asking the Nicholas County Board of Education to consider a proposal where a consolidated middle school and high school could be built in Richwood and in Summersville. The Nicholas County Board of Education will now have to begin the consolidation procedure from step one. 

The vote came after the WVBOE heard arguments from both "pro" and "anti" consolidation supporters.

 The issue arose after three Nicholas County schools were destroyed in the historic flood last June. Instead of rebuilding those schools, the Nicholas BOE voted to consolidate the 3 flooded schools with 2 other non-flooded schools using FEMA money.

 This issue caused a sharp divide between the Richwood and Summersville parts of the county.

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