(03/16/2009)
A Parkersburg attorney has filed an appeal over a decision by the West Virginia Public Employees Grievance Board, which upheld the firing of a Wirt County middle school principal.

J.D. Hoover is claiming he was wrongfully terminated for taking rifles onto school grounds following the accidental shooting of a Wood County youth by a hunter.

Attorney George Cosenza said an appeal has been filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court. Hoover is trying to get his job back.

Hoover was fired in April 2008 for an incident in October 2007 when he took two hunting rifles onto school property after taking them from the scene of a hunting accident at the request of a friend.

He later attempted to return the rifles to the shooting scene.

Last month's decision cited a written reprimand received by Hoover while working for Calhoun County Schools.

Hoover had been a school counselor in Calhoun, and apparently was "written up" by school officials related to what they claimed was improper conduct.

The grievance board said Hoover failed to disclose a 2000 Calhoun reprimand while seeking employment with Wirt County, indicating a pattern of behavior which apparently had a bearing on sustaining Hoover's dismissal.

During a board meeting in 2000, Calhoun school board president Carlene Frederick said, "I want to publicly say I am embarrassed regarding the conduct of some of our teachers," who attended a graduation party.

Hoover is now contending he received permission from Wirt superintendent Metz to bring the guns onto the property.

The grievance board said Hoover's assertion he was given permission by Metz to bring guns onto school grounds was "absurd."

The grievance board also dismissed Hoover's allegations the school board and Wirt County administrators destroyed or tampered with evidence.

The grievance board ruled "The issue that must be addressed is credibility," finding Hoover "less than truthful in his testimony."

"As (Hoover) was so persistent in blaming everyone else for his errors, maintaining he was truthful in all things, and stating he had permission when he did not - this written reprimand further supports his lack of judgment, decreased capacity to appreciate his actions and inability to accept responsibility for his behavior," says the reprimand.

Attorney Cozenza told media, "All I can say is Mr. Hoover is one of the most honest people I've ever met."


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