WILLIAMSON – The Mingo County Board of Education (BOE) held a special meeting Monday, Feb. 15 at the Central Office to conduct six personnel hearings regarding proposed Reduction in Force (RIF) and transfer recommendations.
Two of the personnel agreed to share the results concerning their personnel hearings with the Williamson Daily News.
Thomas Hoffman is currently employed as Vocational Administration at the Mingo County Extended Learning Center. Hoffman explained that his hearing was the first to be held at Monday’s meeting and concerned transferring him from an administrative position to a classroom teacher.
Hoffman stated, “During the lengthy proceedings, Superintendent Robert Bobbera disclosed that his plan was to eventually close the Extended Learning Center altogether.”
The BOE members opposed the recommended transfer 3-2. Hoffman explained, “Following the discussion, the board members went into executive session after which Dave Farley moved to support Dr. Bobbera’s recommendation to transfer. June Glover seconded the motion. Robert Starr, Jackie Branch and Mark Colegrove opposed the transfer.”
When questioned about the outcome, Mr. Hoffman commented, “I’m very pleased that the decision went the way it did. I admire the integrity of the three board members who opposed the recommendation. I am sure it was not an easy thing to do. I am also aware that their vote did not represent any personal support for me, but rather their desire to do the right thing in our community and to continue to provide training which would qualify adults in our area to gain employment in our local workforce.”
Dr. C. Douglas “Doug” Ward also discussed the results regarding his personnel hearing. Ward is currently the Principal at Burch Elementary school with 25 years administrative experience. Board members voted 3-2 in favor of upholding the Superintendent recommendation to transfer Ward to a Principal position at Gilbert Elementary.
“The hearing involved a dispute in the interpretation of County Policy 1540 and the State Code regarding the transfer of administrators. The central office has one interpretation and we have another,” Ward explained. “I felt that the lateral transfer policy is not being applied consistently,” Ward continued.
When asked for comment regarding the BOE’s decision to approve the Superintendents recommendation Ward stated, “These hearings are how we resolve issues. That is the procedure we use to settle disagreements. Hopefully, we can move forward from here. I’m grateful to have a position. There are so many friends facing a difficult situation.”
Dr. Richard Duncan, Human Resources Director for Mingo County Schools also provided comment concerning the personnel hearings. Duncan stated, “Whenever school employees are recommended for transfers for layoffs, they have a legal right to hearings before the board. This gives them the opportunity to tell the board in person why they should not be transferred or laid off. This year, six of our employees requested hearings regarding proposed transfers, with one successfully convincing the board not to following the Superintendent’s recommendation to eliminate his administrative position. However, each of the six requested to have the hearings held in closed session, which is their right. While these still become part of the public record, I would prefer to respect those employee’s rights and not comment on the details of these closed hearings. “
Duncan continued stating, “I will say, though, that with the hearings completed and the board action on Tuesday bringing our workforce in line with projected needs for 2016-17, we are now looking forward to the new opportunities that the new school year will bring our students. We have already begun our search for a teacher to lead our new Option Pathway program, which will help students who are in danger of not graduating receive their high school diploma on time and earn industry credentials as well. Another opportunity heading our way is a new state policy currently being considered that would require our high schools to offer a course in computer science. That is just another way we are trying to keep our schools ahead of the changing economy around us and offer our students new and exciting opportunities to pursue as careers that are both familiar and new to our area. ‘Focus on the future,’ has long been the motto of Mingo County Schools, and it is more than just a catchy slogan.”
The next regular meeting of the Mingo County BOE will be held Tuesday, March 22.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)