Published Online: February 11, 2004
Published in Print: February 11, 2004, as State Journal

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Who's Distinguished?

Two of 12 educators who were named by the West Virginia Department of Education recently as "distinguished educators" may not have made the grade after all.

The dozen "distinguished educators"—current or retired principals and teachers—were hired to work as paid consultants to schools that need improvement.

But two of the appointments have been "put on hold," according to a department of education spokeswoman. The move follows a controversy in late January when it was revealed that two of the educators had been administrators at schools that failed to meet all of the new federal standards of the No Child Left Behind Act.

As part of their jobs, the distinguished educators would help schools meet such standards.

The state education department would not release the names of the two educators last week or reveal the reason their appointments had been held up.

Leading up to the department's action, however, West Virginia newspapers had widely reported that two of the appointees, David Gillispie, the former principal of McKinley Middle School, and Ronald Cantley II, the former principal of Beckley-Stratton Junior High, had led those schools, which did not meet the federal standards in certain categories last year.

Mr. Gillispie, who retired last year, could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Cantley, now the assistant principal at Sandy Springs Middle School, said he could not speak to reporters unless the education department gave him permission. When reached by phone last week, he said: "I have a mouthful on all of that, but I don't want to say anything unless I have permission."

The department declined to give him such permission.

Liza Cordeiro, a spokeswoman for the department, said the agency "wanted to look at an entire career of the applicant, not just the scores of their schools from last year."

The distinguished educators are eligible to work part time as consultants for up to $28,000 a year. The 10 candidates whose appointments were not held up are in training for the positions.

The flap has made the state re-view its hiring process for the job.

"In light of what has been said, we are looking at our process," Ms. Cordeiro said. "They were just asked for proof that as an educator or administrator, they had lots of experience directing a school, and having a vision of where schools need to go."

—Lisa Goldstein

Vol. 23, Issue 22, Page 11

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