Delegate Mark Dean, R-Mingo, has, at least temporarily, been replaced as principal of Gilbert PreK-8 by the school’s assistant principal, who filed a grievance against the Mingo County Board of Education over not getting the top job.
William McGinley, an administrative law judge for the West Virginia Public Employees Grievance Board, ordered in April that Cheryl Bailey be promoted to principal. The Mingo school board appealed the ruling to Kanawha Circuit Court, where the case is still pending.
Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey denied last month the Mingo school board’s request to not have to promote Cheryl Bailey in the meantime.
Dean posted on Facebook last week that “for the first time in 14 years, I will report to somewhere other than a Gilbert School to work.”
“Through zero fault of my own, I will not be serving as the principal of the school during the appeal process,” Dean wrote. “I will be reporting to the Central Office to perform duties as assigned.”
He wrote that “I’m not sure what that means either, haha.”
“Being the principal/assistant principal in my hometown for the past 14 years has and will always be my dream job and I hope to get to serve the community in that capacity again soon!,” Dean wrote. “I will continue to exhaust all efforts to return as the principal.”
Dean was the House Education Committee’s vice chairman until this summer, when House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, removed him.
That came after Dean, bucking most other Republicans, proposed several failed amendments to the omnibus education bill (House Bill 206), targeting the charter schools it would legalize. The bill became law, despite Dean and six other Republicans joining all Democrats to vote against it in the House.
In January 2018, the state Board of Education approved the Mingo school board’s request to close Gilbert Elementary and move its students into Gilbert Middle, creating Gilbert PreK-8.
Later that month, the Mingo school board voted to hire Dean to become principal of Gilbert PreK-8, even though Bailey applied for that position, McGinley wrote in his grievance ruling.
Bailey then applied to the assistant principal position at Gilbert PreK-8 and was hired into it, McGinley wrote. The school merger then took effect at the start of last school year.
“Here the Board had decided to eliminate Grievant’s position, hire someone else for the position which allegedly replaced the one abolished and employed Grievant in a position she had only taken to stay employed, all before she was given any written notice that she was being considered for transfer or reduction in force,” McGinley wrote.
He wrote that “the hearing Grievant was given by the Board was in no way a detached and independent hearing the [state] Supreme Court found was required by the statute to be held prior to board action.”
McGinley also wrote that, of all Gilbert Middle employees, only Bailey’s position “was abolished and newly created.” The only change to Gilbert Middle was the addition of new students and classes from Gilbert Elementary, he wrote, and he noted that the Mingo school board went through the state’s school closure process for the elementary school, but not the middle school.
“The fact that the administration planned to implement a new curriculum did not make this a new school,” McGinley wrote, adding in a footnote that “with the various school reform movements which have been initiated in the last half century, school curriculums are changed on the national, state and local levels more frequently than it rains in April.”
“The position of Principal in the merged Gilbert PreK-8 was not newly created,” he concluded. “Grievant held the position in the existing school and it should not have been posted.”
Leslie Tyree represented the Mingo school board in the grievance and is doing so in the appeal.
In her failed motion to stay McGinley’s ruling, Tyree argued that the Mingo school board “determined that the adding of seven grades, prekindergarten through fifth grade, to the three grades previously taught at Gilbert Middle School, substantially and materially changed the positions of Principal and Assistant Principal sufficiently to cause the positions to constitute new positions that must be posted.”