WV Supreme Court Rules in Favor of WVBOE, Nicholas County, Richw - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV Supreme Court Rules in Favor of WVBOE, Nicholas County, Richwood will not Consolidate

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UPDATE (3:15 PM 10/10/17):

The West Virginia State Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the West Virginia Board of Education in their case against the Nicholas County Board of Education.

The State Supreme Court says that the WVBOE has the authority to accept or reject a consolidation plan and that procedural compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements does not entitle a county board of education to the approval of its proposed plan. The court also says that reasons formally adopted by the WVBOE for rejection of the plan "were neither arbitrary nor capricious."

You can read the full ruling here: http://www.courtswv.gov/supreme-court/docs/fall2017/17-0767.pdf

The West Virginia Board of Education and West Virginia Superintendent of Schools, Steven Paine issued the following statement:

“The West Virginia Board of Education and State Superintendent of Schools are appreciative of the West Virginia Supreme Court’s ruling today in the Nicholas County case. We remain focused on finding a resolution that meets the best interest of all students in Nicholas County. We look forward to working cooperatively with the citizens of Nicholas County, the Nicholas County Board of Education, Governor Justice, the West Virginia Legislature and FEMA to ensure that all of the students in Nicholas County are educated in quality facilities and have access to the effective and diverse educational opportunities that all West Virginia students deserve.” 

Richwood Mayor Dr. Bob Henry Baber issued the following statement::

We are incredible [sic] thankful that the Supreme Court has ruled 5-0 against consolidation!! Justice has prevailed and new schools will be coming soon to a neighborhood near and dear to us: RICHWOOD!!

This is very positive news, yes. Enjoy! But be thankful to all that helped, be temperate in your celebration and forgiving to the Nicholas County Board of Education. We need to come back together now. This is decision [sic] is good for all the students and for the entire State of West Virginia! I'm overjoyed! 


ORIGINAL:

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) - In final arguments, attorneys representing the Nicholas County and West Virginia Board of Education (WVBOE) explained why they believe the state Supreme Court should or should not force the state to approve the county consolidation request.

The request comes after three Nicholas schools were flooded in June 2016. Instead of rebuilding all three schools, the county is proposing a plan to combine five county schools on one campus in Summersville. 

The plans have ended in a messy legal battle and Tuesday Nicholas County and the state board faced tough questions before the Supreme Court over who has the ultimate authority in school consolidation. 

"There's nothing in state board policy or statute now that says thou shall consolidate in West Virginia," said Kelli Talbott, representing the West Virginia Board of Ed from the Attorney General's Office. 

Talbott said the West Virginia Board is called to look at school reconfiguration with a broad lens, deciding if the plan is really best for all students. Talbott added that if the Board was intended to simply rubber stamp compliant reports, Board policy would have left a provision requiring WVBOE to approve proposals that follow all policies and procedures.

"In fact, I would submit that the state board of ed has a higher duty than that because they are responsible for the general supervision of the public schools under the constitution," Talbott explained.

But Kenneth Webb, representing the NCBOE, said that's not fair. 

"The state board may reject where the county board failed to meet state law or state policy. So the corollary of that is - we met state law, we met state policy," Webb told the judges.

Webb said if a county follows the rules and Policy 6204- they should get approved.

"If they want to impose criteria not contained in 6204, they should amend their regulations. If they impose criteria not contained in 6204- that is textbook arbitrary behavior," Webb added.

The controversy has been brewing in court for months now, but the final decision rests in the Supreme Court's hands. 

"You can say they crossed their "t"s and dotted their "i"s procedurally, but let's back up a little bit. One of the things the WVBOE lawyer said was 'wait a minute, there is no one size fits all' And there's certainly no one-size-fits-all in a thousand year flood," Richwood Mayor Bob Henry Baber told 13 News.

The court did not rule Tuesday, but a decision is expected in the coming weeks.

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