(08/09/2005)
Gauley Bridge High School and Montgomery Middle School are not closing, part of a school consolidation plan in Fayette County.

Kanawha Circuit Court Judge Charlie King has ruled in favor of Gauley Bridge supporters who sued to keep the schools open.

Students were to move this fall to a reconfigured Valley High School and Valley Elementary School in Smithers.

King granted a writ of mandamus with an injunction that requires the Fayette County School Board and West Virginia Board of Education comply with all state laws and policies.

King said officials failed to approve the reasons and supporting data for the closures.

He said the Supreme Court has said there must be "strict compliance" with laws and regulations in school closure cases, not "substantial compliance," the standard the boards have applied in this case.

During a "reconfiguration hearing" in Lincoln County last night, Challenge WV fellow Thomas Ramey reminded state officials he was right about their holding illegal hearings in that county.

"Now, your bloody hammer bureaucrats have re-scheduled the hearings for 9 a.m. while parents are at work," Ramey said.

"It is political arrogance at its best," he said.

The State Board of Education has tended to conduct several meetings that have been declared illegal, including those in which they hired a new state Superintendent of Schools.


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