Marple should avoid legal battle
If former West Virginia state school Superintendent Jorea Marple has been serious in previous statements that doing good things for children is a priority for her, she will call off her attorneys.
Marple became what amounts to chief executive officer of the state’s public school system in March 2011. But late last year, the state Board of Education voted to fire her, with two members disagreeing so strongly they eventually resigned their posts.
Now attorneys for Marple said they are preparing to sue the state board over the firing. They have said Marple’s reputation was damaged. She should be paid compensation for that and reinstated to her $165,000-a-year job, the lawyers say.
As far as Marple’s reputation goes, some of the very state board members who voted to fire her went out of their way to commend her. They implied it was not her qualifications for the job but simply a difference of opinions in how to proceed with school reform that led them to hand her a pink slip.
In other words, some board members feared that Marple did not see eye to eye with them on how to improve public schools.
Marple, whose husband is former state Attorney General Darrell McGraw, knows as well as anyone the difference in some jobs in state government. In some, it may be fair to maintain that a grasp of the mechanics of how certain work is done, along with a willingness to do it that way, is enough to ensure job security.
But things are vastly different in “will and pleasure” jobs such as that Marple held until late last year. In those, in exchange for higher pay and often more influence, employers such as the state Board of Education are entitled to feel entirely comfortable with their appointees.
They were not comfortable with Marple, so they made a change. It is that simple.
If Marple proceeds with her lawsuit, it will cost the state a substantial amount of money that otherwise could have gone into education reform. It will divert the attention of some board members and state Department of Education officials away from reform while they deal with the lawsuit.
It will not serve the best interests of the children of West Virginia. If Marple wants to secure her reputation in that regard, she will not proceed with the suit.