Mingo County School District’s Education Policy Letter Disputes Parents

Battle rages in W.Va. over control of public school policy The school district of Mingo County, W.Va., is making decisions about education policy without input from families, educators or the state legislature. The district’s…

Mingo County School District's Education Policy Letter Disputes Parents

Battle rages in W.Va. over control of public school policy

The school district of Mingo County, W.Va., is making decisions about education policy without input from families, educators or the state legislature. The district’s policies are “a product of its board members, school administrators, teachers and other administration,” according to an August 17 letter signed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and W.Va. Commissioner of Public Instruction Terry Knaap.

The W.Va. Board of Education’s “business manager” is John B. Lomax, who has overseen school board policies in Mingo since 2004. Lomax, who is also chairman of the Board of Education, said he had no responsibility for the policy letter, which is posted on the Board’s website.

This is the second time this year that Lomax has been called out by parents of Mingo children, who have launched protests over perceived wrongs in school policies. This past June, parents of Mingo students protested in front of the Mingo County Courthouse over “malfeasance by school officials.”

But it is the board’s apparent role in drafting the policies that has stirred the most controversy.

A board spokesman says the policy letter, in part, was drafted with the input of parents and educators. One of the policy positions has been “parents should be involved in the decision making when it comes to school policies,” the spokesman says. “The parents’ input is going to help the board make this decision for the school district.”

Board members on July 8 also voted 5-0 to approve the use of an independent state review panel to approve the district’s policies and determine which ones to keep. Board members declined to comment on their role in drafting the policy letter. But district officials did confirm that several board meetings were held in August and that board members, including Lomax, attended those meetings. And the superintendent said teachers were present at those meetings.

The superintendent, Jim Spillane, says he does not believe the board has acted in a deliberate manner. “The board has a lot of things to do, and we do not have everything we need to do,” he says.

At the Ming

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