LOGAN, W.Va. — At a recent meeting of the Logan County Board of Education, issues at Man Middle School were discussed during public comments and time allotted by the board for member comment.
Brian Tinney, with American Federation of Teachers union, addressed the board saying, “There’s no doubt change needs to come at Man Middle School. How can we change positively when the public perception is presented by the school board? At a public meeting prior to Christmas, the board was upset by a public presentation…It’s never good to be publicly humiliated and no positive change can come from that.”
At the board’s meeting Dec. 20, 2016, president Paul Hardesty explained he had previously made comments saying a, “toxic environment,” existed at the Man Middle.
At the same meeting Hardesty stood by his comments saying, “There’s stuff that’s gone on up there the past two or three years that makes me sick to my stomach, and I’m going to tell you something. There’s five, six, maybe seven people up there who, when the facts come out, and the public finds out what’s going on, they’re going to be embarrassed,” noted Hardesty.
At the recent meeting, Hardesty added, “The environment is toxic. I stand behind that 100 percent. The facts are the facts. I have an obligation when people call from the Man are and tell me of allegations at Man Middle School to check them out. Rest assured it’s coming public. I’d love to say all I know about Man Middle School. If someone stands at the podium and looks at this board and asks, ‘Did you have knowledge or should have had knowledge that this was going on Man Middle School’ I’ve got two choices to answer. Yes, I have knowledge. Then the question becomes, ‘What did you do about? Did you let it continue and fester or did you act on it?’ That’s where the fiduciary responsibility comes to me and these four board members. Knowledge has been presented to me, and I hoped and prayed it was not true. We hired an investigator and guess what we found out? It was true. The facts will come out.”
Tinney responded, “I just don’t understand why we want to bash these people publicly. It takes a whole community for a school to be ran and we’re splitting a community right now.”
At the December 20 meeting, the principal of Man Middle was Cynthia Caldwell is currently suspended without pay until the end of January, 2017.
Former superintendent of Logan County schools Wilma Zigmond is currently acting as principal at the school.
During time for board member comment, Dr. Pat Joe White explained, “When issues or concerns are expressed to us by members of the public, the communities, by the people who elect us to this seat, we’ve got to weight these comments and determine whether some type of investigation is necessary to determine the validity of these comments. It makes no difference to any of us what individuals or schools that the concern is about.”
When the West Virginia Department of Education released letter grades for schools throughout the state earlier this year, Man Middle School was the only in the county to receive an “F” grade.
The three elementary schools which feed Man Middle all received passing grades, and one even scored an “A.”
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 or by email at [email protected]