Vacancy on Ohio Co Board of Education Remains Unfilled
State Superintendent Michele Blatt may announce her decision by the end of the week. Ohio Co BoE had until July 4 to make an appointment. They failed with an evenly divided Board.
The Ohio County Board of Education met for their regular business meeting Monday, July 10. All eyes were on the Board at their June 29 meeting, who failed to fill a vacant seat.
A vacancy opened up when the late Grace Norton, 80, died on May 20. Per Board of Education rules, vacancies are to be filled within 45 days—or July 4.
The seat of the late Grace Norton represented Magisterial District 1. The Board of Education is giving preference to candidates from the district.
Two candidates who applied to fill the vacancy were given votes at the Board’s June 29 meeting—Ms Jessica Powers and Ms Olivia Litman. Both candidates have their detractors.
Powers previously ran for the Ohio County Board of Education in the 2022 election. The race was nonpartisan and saw six people running for three open seats. Powers came in fourth with 2,700 votes. Powers says she started attending Board of Education meetings due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Powers was endorsed by Carlee Dittmar, current Chair of the Ohio County GOP and known far-right agitator in Wheeling. Powers has received pushback online where people have alleged she has connections with Moms for Liberty, a group that advocates book bannings.
Litman has received pushback, too. Litman claims she lives in Magisterial District 1, but her children go to Woodsdale Elementary. Their address is listed in Magisterial District 2.
Litman is considered a more moderate choice than Powers. While Litman has been supported online, Powers had four delegations speak in support of her nomination at the June 29 meeting.
Ultimately, the Board failed to fill the vacant seat. Board members Molly Aderholt and David Croft supported Powers. Board president Andrew Garber and Board member Pete Chacalos supported Litman. With both votes failing 2-2, the decision is up to State Superintendent Michele Blatt, who took office on June 30.
Board president Garber said at the July 10 meeting that a nomination could come by the end of the week. Blatt has full discretion in making the decision, but Gerber said she was waiting to consult with the West Virginia State Board of Education at their July 12 meeting.
Ohio County Superintendent Dr Kimberly Miller congratulated the 221 students throughout the county who were recipients of Stifel Awards, totalling $210,000. Awards are given annually and are based on a student's GSA scores, GPA, and test scores, Miller said.
A teacher at Wheeling Park High School addressed the Board at Superintendent Miller’s request, sharing recently announced AP test scores. 74% of students in the county passed their exams with an average score of 3.2.
Several classes had 100% passage rates, including AP Music Theory and AP Biology. 26 different tests were taken, with 217 students taking 259 total exams.
Leah Stout, Special Education Director for the County, delivered the Office of Special Education Annual Report to the Board. 19% of Ohio County Students have been identified to have a disability.
The county received a 90% compliance rating, and exceeded the state target for graduation with 97% of students graduating.
Stout was asked by Board member Croft what the Board could do to continue supporting her and students with disabilities. Stout said continued support was critical, noting the county is working to create the least restrictive environments possible for special education students.
New disciplinary policy passed by the WV Legislature, known as Policy 4600 or HB 4600, was briefly discussed. The law requires training on procedures for working with students with disabilities. Stout said every professional employee, from secretaries to teachers, will be trained.
The next meeting will take place at 6:00 PM, July 24, at the Ohio County School building in Elm Grove. The Board considered a special swearing in ceremony for their new member, yet to be announced, but no action was taken.
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