Union leader likes Justice picks for state Board of Education

By MetroNews Staff
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The president of the West Virginia Education Association is applauding Governor Jim Justice’s choices for three seats on the state Board of Education.

The new members are Miller Hall, Barbara Whitecotton and Chuck Hatfield. All have extensive education backgrounds.

“It’s time that we have educators on the Board who have had that experience and these are quality people,” said Dale Lee of the appointees who will be officially sworn in during the Board’s February meeting.

Hall is a Beckley native who has served in the Raleigh County school system for more than 40 years. He taught social studies at Woodrow Wilson High School, served as dean of boys, assistant principal and later as principal of Woodrow Wilson for 10 years. In 1999, Hall was promoted to the central office position of director of pupil services, then became director of secondary schools and finally went on to become assistant superintendent of support services for Raleigh County.

Whitecotton retired in June of 2016 after working 41 years in West Virginia public schools. She worked in Pendleton and Hardy counties — 23 years in administration and 18 years in the classroom. She served as superintendent of Hardy County Schools for eight years, and as assistant superintendent for three years. Before becoming an administrator, she taught students with disabilities.

Hatfield is a retired educator with 43 years of service in West Virginia public schools. Hatfield retired in July, 2016, as superintendent of Putnam County Schools, where he had served since 2004. During his tenure as superintendent, Putnam County Schools led the state in academic achievement and employee salaries. In 2009, Hatfield was named West Virginia Superintendent of the Year by the West Virginia Association of School Administrators.

In a statement, Justice pointed out the “significant classroom experience” of the three and said they “have dedicated their lives to improving public education.”

“The politicians and bureaucrats in Charleston have failed to listen to our teachers,” Justice said.

Lee agreed. “I think it’s important to have people on the state Board who have gone through it, who have experienced what teachers do every day and that have that knowledge base,” he said.
“We were recommending from the very beginning, from our first interview with then-Candidate Justice that he name educators to the Board,” Lee told MetroNews. “It’s the only profession I know where others make the decisions about education instead of the true experts.”

In a joint statement, Hall, Whitecotton and Hatfield said the following:

“We want to return local control to our school districts, give our teachers and schools the freedom to properly educate our kids, stop over-testing students, and eliminate the complex bureaucracy holding back our schools,” the three wrote.

In all, the West Virginia Board of Education has nine members.

“I’m excited about the direction that public education can take in West Virginia when we continue to listen to the experts — the educators in the state,” Lee said.