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Preston BOE votes to opt back in opioid settlement

KINGWOOD — Members of the Preston County Board of Education voted to opt back into the McKinsey & Company LLC opioid settlement.

The decision was made after receiving a memorandum from attorney Ben Bailey of Bailey Glasser LLP, concerning school boards and the opioid litigation updates.

Bailey previously said school boards that opt out may be able to negotiate with McKinsey for more funds from the settlement. The Preston BOE voted to opt out and see if that happened. The funds would be used in a trust that would be available to West Virginia counties to apply for as grants.

In the recent memorandum, Bailey said fewer than 1% of all school boards or political subdivisions opted out. During the January meeting, members of the Preston County Board of Education voted unanimously to retain Bailey & Glasser to represent Preston County Schools in the Opioid Class Action Lawsuit and to become a plaintiff in the National Prescription Opiate Consultant Litigation. Members also voted unanimously and to opt out of the current settlement offered by McKinsey & Co.

Bailey said if McKinsey declines to negotiate, but goes forward with the settlement, the $23,000,000 will still be in trust — along with other settlements with other defendants. While those who opt out won’t have a claim to the $23,000,000, the counties would still be eligible to apply for grants from the other monies, which presently total $33.5 million awaiting other judicial action and should grow.

“The good news is I think that McKinsey & Co. LLC means the settlement is likely, overall, to be approved. But I also think it makes it less urgent to discuss additional settlement dollars with us, or any other opt-outs.” he wrote.

He went on to say that McKinsey & Co. has not called him or expressed interest in further settlement negotiations with the West Virginia school boards that have opted out of the settlement, although they have been urged to call. He said this leaves the choices of doing nothing, opting back in to the settlement, or proceeding to litigate claims against McKinsey.

“We have reviewed that analysis and those rulings from the court overseeing the litigation against McKinsey, which originally and right after this settlement was reached, dismissed claims brought by parents and guardians of children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. In light of those rulings, we are concerned that new claims brought by school boards against McKinsey might meet the same fate.” Bailey wrote.

In other business, Kathleen Doyle presented an overview of a program her students participated in about the Holocaust called the Butterfly Project.

“With the Butterfly Project, we have cross collaboration going on. Science can work with math and the German class and English class. Each butterfly represents a Jewish child that passed away during the Holocaust.” she said.

Doyle said by working together the students were making new friends and learning about something important.

“There are a lot of Holocaust events that students know about. They research as a group and work cooperatively and build on each others’ knowledge,” she said.

Doyle said one of the projects involved shoes. Students were given a shoe and had 30 minutes to write about the shoe’s owner. She said one student, Cameryn Sypolt, had a child’s shoe, and wrote a poem about a 3-year-old walking great distances to a prison camp where she lost her family. She cried for several nights and then it was her turn to die.

“I don’t think I could have written that poem that well in just 30 minutes,” Doyle said.

Doyle’s students weren’t the only ones showing off their talents. The Preston High School Jazz Assembly entertained board members with three tunes.

Also speaking was Logan Sigley, a member of the theater stage crafters; Sophia Taylor, who talked about being homecoming queen; Collin Wyatt who won first place at Math Field Day; Rick Deal, first-place winner at the science fair; and Tony Crawford, winner of the social studies fair.