by Ron Gregory
WELCH — The Superintendent of McDowell County Schools, like his Mingo County counterparts, has failed to respond to media requests for public information.
McDowell Superintendent Nelson Spencer did not return calls seeking information left on his office phone. The voice of an assistant, Wanda Thomas, assured the reporter that “I will return the call.”
The Corridor Chronicle followed the telephoned requests hours later with an email, a copy of which is reprinted here.
“The purpose of this letter is to inquire as to whether the McDowell County Board of Education has any policy regarding employee conduct on social media. While this is a general question, your attention is directed to Facebook postings by your River View High School employee, Lisa Compton.
“If the Board has a policy on social media, please consider this a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for a copy. If you wish me to write a separate FOIA request for such information, I will do so although I see no reason to waste the taxpayers’ time in duplicating it.
“I am providing this request in writing since I have had no return of my calls to your central office in Welch despite leaving messages asking for them to be returned. If you are unwilling or unable to return a simple phone call, and if you choose to ignore this written request, I am hereby requesting time on your next School Board agenda so that I can address the board regarding Ms. Compton and your social media policies, if any.
“I look forward to hearing from you within the next five business days, as provided by the FOIA.
THE CORRIDOR CHRONICLE
PO Box 20297
Charleston, WV 25362
Following an original Corridor Chronicle article quoting Williamson attorney Justin Marcum as being employed on behalf of a minor female student at Mingo Central Comprehensive High School to sue MCCHS Principal Daniel Dean, McDowell secretary/aide Lisa Compton posted defenses of Dean on social media. This led to an exchange of posts between Compton and the Chronicle Editor. The Editor began researching Compton’s social media postings and found she routinely placed items dealing with sexual innuendo, and violence directed toward others.
Efforts to reach Spencer have proved fruitless, as have calls to the Mingo County Superintendent and MCCHS. The state Board of Education says that since all issues presented are “local,” they have no control or comment on the matters.
The Editor has said that, if there is no response from Mingo County Schools, he will request to appear on the Board agenda “to ask the questions the Superintendent and Principal are hiding from.”
Meetings of the boards of education are public, the Editor pointed out. “Decorum must be maintained,” he said, “but I or any representative of the public is allowed to appear for their meetings and, if necessary, make statements and ask questions. Nobody is challenging either Superintendent or the Principal to do anything but come out of hiding and respond to the public they took an oath to serve.”