Gayle Manchin fires 4 employees as new department head

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Gayle Manchin

Gayle Manchin, West Virginia’s new secretary of the Department of Education and the Arts, has fired one-third of the department’s central office staff in a sweeping reorganization.

Missy Phalen, executive assistant to Manchin, confirmed Monday that the terminated employees are: Brent Sansom, chief financial officer; Tiffany Redman, special assistant to the secretary; Beth Hughes, special projects coordinator; and Linda Brown, accounting technician.

Asked for comment, Phalen issued a statement Monday that read: “Under the governor’s direction as his cabinet secretary, Secretary Manchin is focused on re-structuring and re-purposing the staff in the cabinet office to work more effectively and efficiently.”

Phalen continued: “We want to provide the model for the agencies under our purview to encourage the sharing of resources that will create new and better results. We want to be the governor’s voice in promoting the rich history and culture of our state through arts and education.”

Phalen, who had worked for Manchin as an assistant while Manchin’s husband, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was governor, is a new hire in the department’s central office, which currently lists eight employees.

During the budget impasse last summer, House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, and then-Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, called on then-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to eliminate the department and its $850,000 budget as one of a series of proposed budget cuts.

New Gov. Jim Justice appointed Manchin, who also served eight years on the West Virginia Board of Education, as Cabinet secretary on Jan. 13. Manchin worked briefly for Education and the Arts as a special projects coordinator, resigning in summer 2003, when her husband announced his candidacy for governor.

She succeeds Kay Goodwin, who retired Dec. 31, having served as Education and the Arts secretary since 2001.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1220 or follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.

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