School board to begin search for Raglin's replacement

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha County Board of Education met Monday for the first time in nearly 20 years without Bill Raglin as a member.Raglin, 76, of Dunbar, died last week at Thomas Memorial Hospital after a short illness.The school board will meet Dec. 12 to determine how to fill Raglin's seat.School board member Becky Jordon nominated member Robin Rector to replace Raglin as the board's vice president.The board has less than 40 days to select a replacement for Raglin. That replacement will serve as an interim member until the seat is up for election in May, according to Kanawha County Schools attorney Jim Withrow."There's no specific mechanism or procedure for filling the vacancy other than by appointment of the board, so it would be this board's decision as to how to proceed," Withrow advised board members during a special session Monday.At next Thursday's meeting, the board will not select Raglin's replacement, but will vote on how to proceed with the selection process: whether to accept outside applications or only allow board members to suggest names, and whether to conduct public or private interviews.Jordon worried that the board was "dragging this out," and Rector said, "We're losing time here."
School board President Pete Thaw suggested the board look to Putnam County Schools' recent process of appointing a new board member, where the board accepted applications and conducted 11 interviews behind closed doors.Board members agreed that while next week's meeting will be public, any discussion about potential candidates would be held in executive session."I don't feel comfortable discussing names in open session," board member Jim Crawford said. "I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings."Both Thaw and Jordon said they've already received calls from people interested in the position.The rev. Matthew Watts -- who is leading a community schools project on Charleston's West Side -- said he's already asked the board to consider Dennis Davis for the position.Davis, a retired assistant superintendent of Kanawha County Schools and former head of vocational education in the county, was also a good friend of Raglin's."Mr. Davis was a close confidant of Mr. Raglin, and has 30 years of experience in education. He's very well respected," Watts said. "We really want to try to get someone who can understand Kanawha County Schools and will help lead education reform the way Mr. Raglin was."
At the Dec. 12 meeting, the school board will meet at 11:30 a.m. at the central office on Elizabeth Street. Reach Mackenzie Mays at or 304-348-4814.
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