Logan school board hires interim superintendent

Ryan Quinn, Staff Writer

Logan — Logan County school board members voted unanimously Thursday evening to name former Lincoln County superintendent Patricia Lucas as their interim superintendent.

Lucas’ contract will pay her $80,000 to work from Tuesday through June 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

She will take over at a time of continuing controversy surrounding Logan’s past full-time superintendent, Phyllis Doty, plus likely future tumult regarding what Logan school board President Paul Hardesty said is the financial need to cut about 50 school employee positions of the 86 Logan’s public school system currently employs above what the state school aid funding formula pays for.

Hardesty said Lucas was the only person the board interviewed for the interim job.

Lucas, 65, said she taught for about 22 years in Lincoln, a Southern West Virginia county bordering Boone, before spending six teaching years in the Eastern Panhandle counties of Berkeley and Morgan.

She said she then worked as a Morgan public school system administrator, including as special education director.

She then worked a total of four years at the state Department of Education as the special education director for the Office of Institutional Education Programs, which includes juvenile justice system education, and later as the department’s liaison to the attendance directors of West Virginia’s 55 county school systems.

She then returned to Lincoln’s public school system as its assistant superintendent and, after two years, became its superintendent in the 2011-12 school year. She said she was the first superintendent the Lincoln school board hired after the state Board of Education’s takeover there ended.

She said that despite being offered a contract extension, she retired at the end of the 2014-15 school year and went to work for Regional Education Service Agency 2. The Lincoln Journal reported that she was considering a state House of Delegates run when she retired.

Lucas is married to Conrad Lucas, the Cabell County school system’s treasurer. The chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party, also named Conrad Lucas, is their son.

“After a little over 43 years, I thought maybe it was just time a good time, I was leaving on a positive note,” Lucas said Thursday when asked why she retired from Lincoln’s superintendent role.

Hardesty, who works as a lobbyist in Charleston, called her to ask if she was interested in the interim superintendent role.
“This was my life for over 40 years and I realized that I did miss it,” Lucas said. “So it was an opportunity that came my way, and I thought I would enjoy working with students again, seeing them become successful in another school system.”

Hardesty touted Lucas’ experience in multiple education areas, including special education and personnel.

“We’ve had so much turnover in this system in the past four months, we needed someone to come in and bring some stability and continuity, to hit the ground running,” Hardesty said. “We felt like we had that with her. … We feel like we’re getting a seasoned veteran.”

He said she came recommended by more than one person, but said he couldn’t recall exactly whom Thursday night.

Lucas said Thursday she didn’t know yet whether she wants to apply for the permanent superintendent position. Hardesty said the board hopes to start a “vast, far-reaching” search for a more permanent superintendent in January, but said Lucas is welcome to bid on that position.

“We will try to go outside of county because we need someone to come in with a fresh mindset, a fresh view, not tied to the old political system,” Hardesty said.

Logan already had a previous interim superintendent this school year: Suzette Cook, who announced her resignation Oct. 14. Board members said Cook said in her resignation letter that she was stepping down because of health concerns.

Cook took over Aug. 8 — following another short stint by Assistant Superintendent Darlene Dingess-Adkins as acting superintendent — from former superintendent Phyllis Doty, who was bought out of a four-year contract extension about two months after the deal was signed. That deal was signed following controversy over approval of a former, more generous version of the extension.

Hardesty said Doty informed the board on July 14 — its first regular meeting after he and two other board members who had advocated for a less-than-four-year contract extension took office — that she planned to leave the position effective Sept. 30, 2016.

Hardesty said the board decided she could just work through the end of July, and the board agreed to pay her for August and September but not the rest of her contract.

The contract Doty left would’ve increased her $115,000 salary for last school year by $2,500 for the next four school years, meaning her annual salary would’ve reached $125,000 in the 2019-20 school year, the final year of her extension.

Almost immediately after Doty’s departure, allegations publicly surfaced, via The Logan Banner, that Doty had been using school funds for personal purchases.

Reach Ryan Quinn at ryan.quinn@wvgazettemail.com, facebook.com/ryanedwinquinn, 304-348-1254 or follow @RyanEQuinn on Twitter.