The Randolph County Board of Education met to discuss the appointment of an interim superintendent of schools Tuesday, but the conversation took place behind closed doors.
The special board meeting began at 6 p.m. after Board President Lisa Wamsley welcomed everyone and the board immediately went into executive session to consider a personnel matter.
Around 6:15 p.m., Wamsley left the executive session and told The Inter-Mountain she could not discuss why she left the session. She said the board is currently considering six candidates for the interim superintendent job.
The candidates are looking to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Dr. James Phares, which is effective Dec. 30. The West Virginia Board of Education voted unanimously Dec. 12 to make Phares the state superintendent of schools while a national search to find a long-term superintendent is undertaken. Phares will begin his job as the state schools' chief on Jan. 2.
"We are looking to appoint someone as interim superintendent for Jan. 1 through June 30," Wamsley told The Inter-Mountain. "During that time we will be searching for a superintendent to fill the position permanently starting on July 1."
Wamsley said the candidates being considered for the interim job were all "recognized by their colleagues for their work." She said each candidate was given 15 minutes to discuss the position with the board.
The board plans to appoint the interim superintendent at as a special meeting on Dec. 26.
"Dr. Phares has done an excellent job in Randolph County," Wamsley said. "He has extended his services from the state level to assist us and answer any questions."
Phares was hired by the Randolph BOE in 2009 after the resignation of former superintendent Sue Hinzman. Phares took over the position after the school system was cited with several deficiencies from the West Virginia Department of Education and the Office of Education Performance Audits.
The OEPA audit eventually led the state board of education to declare a state of emergency in Randolph County Schools. Under the direction of Phares, the school system corrected the issues and full accreditation was given to the school system.
Phares was also instrumental in the demolition of the former Elkins High School that sat along South Davis Avenue. The building stood for several years vacant after the new school was built. After an inspection, the city of Elkins condemned the building.
Phares also helped spearhead the 2010 excess levy that was approved by voters. Funding from the measure has increased the technology used in the schools, replaced roofs and has assisted with funding for extracurricular activities.
The board will meet in special session to choose the interim superintendent at 6 p.m. on Dec. 26 at the board office.