Get all of the facts first

No wonder Hancock County Board of Education members have delayed voting on whether to renew school Superintendent Tim Woodward’s contract. A number of serious allegations have been made against him. They include “targeting and harassment of teachers.”

Before any action can be taken on Woodward’s contract, board members need to get to the bottom of the accusations.

But, as former state Sen. Ed Bowman noted Monday, “There’s two sides to every story. Both sides deserve to be heard.”

Bowman, a Weirton resident who has served not just his home county but much of the Northern Panhandle for many years, is right.

Thus far, it appears many of the allegations against Woodward have been made anonymously, via printed material disseminated to a substantial number of Hancock County residents. One recipient, Chris Gillette, told board members he does not know whether the claims are true, but expects the board to investigate.

One in-person charge was made by John Manypenny, who mentioned the alleged harassment of teachers.

One criticism appears to have some foundation. It is that Woodward has had a personal relationship with Andrea Dulaney, the school system’s director of student services. During Monday’s meeting, Dulaney reacted that her personal life has nothing to do with how she does her job.

Whether such a situation has an effect on the school system is up to the board to determine, of course.

Just a few weeks ago, the neighboring Brooke County Board of Education had to handle a situation that forced the resignation of its former superintendent, Toni Shute. She is being investigated by state officials for illegally accessing e-mail messages sent and received by a teacher in Marshall County who also is a member of the Brooke County board.

If those allegations are true, that was a clear-cut case of unacceptable behavior by a superintendent.

But what are the facts regarding Woodward? Accusations are easy to make, especially if done anonymously. Hancock County board members should take Bowman’s advice, and waste no time in getting the facts. It very likely will cost some taxpayer money to hire an outside investigator to do that, but, given the level of distrust involved, that will be money well spent.


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