Kanawha BOE swears in Dennis Davis

Chris Dorst
Dennis Davis, a former assistant superintendent for Kanawha County Schools, is sworn in as the newest member of the county school board on Tuesday morning by Mala Bumgarner, executive secretary for the school system's legal department. Davis' wife, Margaret (right) helps hold the Bible.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dennis Davis, former assistant superintendent for Kanawha County Schools, was sworn in on Tuesday as the newest member of the county Board of Education.Davis replaces Bill Raglin, who died last month at the age of 76 following a short illness.Not only does Davis -- who has served as the county's head of vocational education -- share Raglin's expertise in alternative technical pathways for students, but he also was good friends with Raglin.Davis was even listed as "a special friend" in Raglin's obituary."I am proud that you have selected me this morning to take his place. I'm not Mr. Raglin, but I can assure you I will give it the Raglin try," Davis told the board Tuesday morning after unanimous approval."These are big shoes to fill and he cut a wide path through here, but it was all good and it was all positive ... . I take this responsibility seriously, and I assure you I will give you my best."I look forward to working with each of you to make our school system a vibrant, functional, responsive system which meets the needs of all students and all employees." Davis will serve on the board for the remainder of Raglin's term -- through June 30 -- and said he does not intend to run for the full term in May."I'm only here to serve the remainder of Mr. Raglin's term, and I really can't speak to anything beyond that point," he said.Davis, a lifelong resident of Institute, worked in the Kanawha County school system for nearly 30 years, first as a teacher at DuPont Junior High School in 1968, then at Benjamin Franklin Career & Technical Center and Garnet Career Center before moving to the central office.
Upon retiring from the school system in the 1990s, Davis served as the executive director of workforce development for the state of West Virginia before forming his own company, Davis Property Preservation.Davis welcomed working again with Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring, saying he "has great respect" for him."Under your leadership, I believe the school system is in very capable hands," Davis told Duerring on Tuesday.Davis was reluctant to weigh in on specific education issues, saying it was too soon."School policies have a great impact on student, staff, parents and families here in Kanawha County and I understand the need to weigh carefully any new policy or change of existing policy because we live in a changing world and it often will affect the lives of many," he said.
"I'm not going to say that I'm passionate to the point of 'pushing' vocational education. I spent 30 years in the discipline, so I just want to say that I bring that experience to the board to help them with decisions."The school board did not conduct interviews to fill Raglin's seat but instead, citing an approaching legal deadline to fill the position, chose from a list of about a dozen applicants.South Charleston attorney Ryan White and Ken Tyree, a captain with the Charleston Fire Department, both applied for the position and were present at Tuesday's meeting when Davis was sworn in.Other applicants for Davis' seat included former state Senate Republican leader Vic Sprouse and former school board member Betty Jarvis.The school board will meet in regular session with Davis as a board member for the first time on Thursday at 6 p.m.Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.
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