Community, Latest News, Preston County

Preston BOE still looking to fill seat vacancy

KINGWOOD — Days before the deadline, only one person had applied to fill a vacancy on the Preston County Board of Education.

The board set a deadline of Friday for anyone interested to apply to fill the seat left open by the resignation of board member Robert “Mac” McCrum. McCrum resigned to run for the 52nd West Virginia House of Delegates seat.

Whomever is selected will hold the seat until June 30, 2020. In the May election, voters will select someone to fill the seat for the remaining two years of McCrum’s term. That person will be sworn in July 1, 2020.

Voters also will decide who will fill the seats now held by Pam Feathers and Robert Ridenour, whose terms expire in 2020.

Superintendent Steve Wotring told the board Monday that the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office explained the process.

“Basically what will happen … three people will be elected in the primary. The top two vote getters would be for the seats that [Feathers] and [Ridenour] currently hold. The third highest vote getter will fill the unexpired term,” Wotring explained. “The only thing that would change the status of your top three vote getters is depending on the district from which they come.”

By law, not more than two people from each district in the county can serve at one time on the board.

The board has 45 days from his resignation to appoint someone to fill McCrum’s seat until the election. Feathers asked what will happen if the seat does not get filled.

“The [state] superintendent of schools appoints somebody,” Wotring said.

The board has a special meeting Monday to discuss the applications in closed session. If no more applications are received, Wotring said, he doesn’t know that a meeting is needed.

The new board member will be sworn in at the Nov. 12 meeting.

McCrum, who attended the meeting as a spectator, noted that the board isn’t required to choose anyone who applies.

Head lice policy

Also at the meeting, board member Jeff Zigray said after talking with other counties, he would like the board to reconsider Preston’s policy on head lice. A parent raised concerns on the policy at the board’s last meeting.

Preston’s policy was developed about four years ago, Wotring said, with the input of two local doctors and a state “recommendation.” The state views head lice as a nuisance, not a health issue, Wotring said.

“I think we should send them home,” Zigray said.

Board President Jack Keim said he, too, thinks the policy needs to be reviewed. “I think we need to be a little more strict, if we can,” Keim said. He, too, talked with other counties’ board members, he said.

Any changes in policy will have to be put out for comment and approved by the board, Wotring said.

“I can also tell you that when you start sending them home and the attendance numbers go [down], you’re going to take heat,” Wotring said.

Feathers said head lice is “very expensive to treat, and that creates hardship for families.”

“The problem is that you will have people that work their tail off to treat, and go to the expense. You will also have people who can’t afford to do that. And they will reoccur, and they will reoccur and reoccur. And then you’re going to have a small child who, through no fault of their own, has been out of school for a month,” Wotring said.

Feathers said she doesn’t object to revisiting the policy. Support needs to be made available to parents, something like a “stash” of treatment products available from PTOs, for example, she said.

Current policy says students do not have to be sent home until the end of the day after they are diagnosed with lice and parents are notified, Wotring said. They can return one day after treatment.

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