School to continue with substitutes in charge

WILLIAMSTOWN – Williamstown High School will continue with substitute administrators after a medical leave and suspension has left the school without a permanent principal or vice principal.

The Wood County Board of Education Tuesday voted unanimously to suspend Vice Principal Jeff Bayles without pay for 30 days, beginning Oct. 4. Bayles was suspended with pay Aug. 25 due to a police investigation.

State law allows for a superintendent to suspend an employee with pay without board approval. The without-pay suspension required a school board vote and must be renewed every 30 days.

The West Virginia State Police is handling the investigation.

Wood County Prosecutor Pat Lefebure said Wednesday the case was still under investigation but no charges have been filed. He declined to comment further.

Though rumors have swirled for the past six weeks, no official word has been given on why Bayles was removed from the school.

“We’re letting the investigations take their course,” said Sean Francisco, director of personnel for Wood County Schools and legal counsel for the school board.

Williamstown High Principal Pat Peters has been on medical leave since having surgery in late September. Peters remains hospitalized and recovering, according to family posts on social media.

Francisco said two retired administrators, Mike Winland and Dave Burton, have been handling administrative duties at the school for more than a month. Francisco said there is no timeline for how long the two men will work at the school.

“Right now it is ‘as needed,’ because no one knows how long Bayles’ suspension will be or how long Pat will be out,” Francisco said.

Winland has worked in a variety of administrative jobs for Wood County Schools, including vice principal at Williamstown High, principal of Hamilton Middle School and director of secondary schools for the district. Burton worked for Wood County as a band director and as vice principal at Parkersburg High School before retiring and taking an administrative job outside of the county.

Burton Wednesday said Winland was acting as principal and he was handling vice-principal duties at Williamstown High. Winland was not immediately available for comment.