Marion County teacher resigns amid sexual misconduct allegation

Nov. 22—FAIRMONT — A Marion County teacher has departed the school system after alleged sexual misconduct involving students.

Monday night, after a lengthy closed executive session, the school board pulled an agenda item relating to disciplinary action against a teacher for "exposing students to sexually explicit material."

When questioned about the matter, School Superintendent Donna Hage said, "That employee issue has been addressed and that individual is no longer an employee of Marion County Schools."

The details of the employee's departure were not divulged, but the punishment published on Monday's agenda was suspension for 30 days, to be served Nov. 4,-Jan. 3, 2023. When asked if the employee's departure was decided by the board, Hage repeated her previous answer.

The board was also not a liberty to give the name of the former teacher due to personnel confidentiality.

Student discipline

Six more students were expelled Monday night, after the eight expulsions approved at the previous board meeting earlier this month.

While the details involved in the expulsions are private, the several of the board members lamented the increase in expulsions this year. According to Hage, the county's current expulsions are now at 29, which is usually the total at the end of a school year, not in the middle.

The increase in expulsions is due to students being caught with vapes containing THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana. The district has upped its efforts to prevent vaping with vapor sensors in school bathrooms.

Board member Richard Pellegrin said that at the end of the day, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the parents.

"I'm not very happy to see all these student expulsions. ... I think parents are going to have to start realizing what their minor students are bringing to school," Pellegrin said. "They're ultimately responsible for what their kids do."

East Dale complications

The four-classroom expansion at East Dale Elementary School has hit several obstacles this month.

The initial completion date of late November was pushed to March 1, 2023 after the contractor reported that a backordered component involved in the heating system for the addition would not be available until early next year.

Without heat, the contractors cannot lay the tile in the building.

The board members sat in a 40-minute executive session with the head contractors on the project and discussed the board's grievances over the 15 change orders that have been requested and the constant increase in prices.

"The board has expressed concern with the change orders and the dollar amount on those as well as the extension of the completion date. We brought in the architect to talk about that delay and to talk about the background behind the change orders," Hage said. "The executive session was indicative of the board's watchfulness of the county's spending and allocation of resources."

Other business:

* The board heard a presentation by East Fairmont Middle School Principal Debbie Conover about her school's achievements so far this year.

* East Fairmont High School Principal Lynn Westfall updated the board on her school's stadium project.

* The board honored several groups of students from EFMS, including the cross-country team, STEAM club, girls' soccer team and the track team.

The board's next meeting will be held Monday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m.

Reach David Kirk at 304-367-2522 or by email at dkirk@timeswv.com.