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Plaintiff drops second Waverly lawsuit

PARKERSBURG — The attorney for a woman who sought an injunction to keep Waverly Elementary School in use in light of the pandemic said her goal was not to undo the Wood County Board of Education’s decision to close it.

“She was never suing to reopen Waverly school, nor was she suing to prevent the closure of Waverly school,” said Pat McFarland, attorney for plaintiff Sharon Corbitt.

Instead, he said, she wanted the district to use the existing school in addition to the new Williamstown-Waverly Elementary School to reduce the number of children learning in-person and riding on school buses to lower potential exposure to the novel coronavirus.

“State law allows a school to operate in multiple buildings,” McFarland said Wednesday. “Mrs. Corbitt believes that that is a safer option.”

But after Wood County Circuit Court Judge J.D. Beane last week ordered the suit transferred to Kanawha County Circuit Court to be consolidated with another suit aimed at stopping the closure, Corbitt opted to drop the suit, McFarland said.

“Her recourse is either to seek a writ (of prohibition) from the (state) Supreme Court or go to Charleston, and she can’t afford to do either,” he said.

McFarland on Tuesday filed a notice of dismissal in Wood County Circuit Court.

In an Aug. 3 hearing, McFarland argued the case dealt with different circumstances than the one filed in Kanawha County in December by the Save Waverly Elementary School Association. Representing the school district, attorney Aaron Boone said the plaintiffs in that case had raised the issue of the school’s reopening plan during the pandemic in a hearing in Charleston.

But McFarland said Boone and the district argued those matters were not relevant to the lawsuit.

Corbitt has a grandson who attended Waverly Elementary and she has been involved with the school since her children attended it, McFarland said.

“She’s just worried about it all,” he said. “She’s done everything that she thinks she can do to help the children, and she just hopes and prays the children don’t get sick, (or) the staff and the teachers.”

West Virginia schools are expected to reopen Sept. 8, although state guidelines will determine whether classes will be in-person, virtual or a combination of the two.

“We’re going to provide the most conducive, safest learning environment for all our students and all of our employees,” Wood County Schools Superintendent Will Hosaflook said.

Wood County Board of Education President Justin Raber, who previously called Corbitt’s lawsuit “frivolous” during a board meeting, said Wednesday afternoon he had not seen McFarland’s filing and declined to comment until he read it.

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