Wood BOE asked to release state audit

PARKERSBURG — A Wood County Board of Education member has called for an open discussion of why the district will not release a state education audit for Wood County Schools.

At the end of the board’s Tuesday night meeting at Jefferson Elementary Center, board member Jim Asbury said he has received several calls concerning a draft report by the now-defunct Office of Education Performance Audits, which was completed in April of 2017 but never released as the office was dissolved by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice the same month.

Wood County Schools administrators have refused to release the report, saying it was never approved by the West Virginia Board of Education and therefore was not a public document.

The state Board of Education released 16 pages of the report concerning Wood County Schools central office, but 20 days later the state Department of Education said they would not release the full report.

A Freedom of Information Act request for the report was denied by Wood County Schools.

Asbury said the administration should more directly address the reasons why the document has not been shared with the public.

“I did have a few requests on the OEPA report. I know there has been a couple of FOIA requests,” Asbury said. “I truly believe it is a public document. Good, bad, indifferent. It was paid for by state resources, it was paid for by state taxpayers, and I believe rightly so it is an open document. I think we should make that as open an honest a discussion as we can.”

Superintendent John Flint responded saying the district was not allowed to share the draft report.

In the district’s FOIA response and in conversations and correspondence with state and local officials while trying to secure a copy of the draft OEPA report, members of the media were never told Wood County Schools was prohibited from sharing the document. A representative of the state Board of Education, after sharing 16 pages of the more than 700-page report, suggested the Parkersburg News and Sentinel send a Freedom of Information Act request to Wood County Schools to obtain the document.

It is unclear whether the item will be listed as a discussion item on the district’s next agenda.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, board President Lawrence Hasbargen called for an executive session to be scheduled for the board’s Feb. 27 meeting to discuss a “personnel item.” Hasbargen directed Flint to place the session on the board’s next meeting agenda, but gave no explanation what issue would be discussed.