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Complaint filed against county school board official

By Gail Marsh

(May 26) A complaint has been filed with the West Virginia State Ethics Commission against Doug Gray, a Harrison County Board of Education member who allegedly visited Norwood Elementary School in a snit last week and did not follow school procedure, a school official confirmed.

The letter was filed after Gray visited the school unannounced on Wednesday, according to Doretta Walker, special education teacher and president of Norwood's faculty senate. Walker was one of about five staff members who noticed when Gray came to the school after the last bell.

Walker said Gray arrived with a relative of one of the students and proceeded to question a teacher about an alleged "box" that students are placed in as a form of discipline. He did not talk with the principal or sign in at the office before confronting the teacher, Walker said.

"Mr. Gray is aware of the sign-in policy and he didn't sign in at the office. He went to the teacher and asked to see the box. When she denied there was one, the man with Gray got aggressive with her," Walker said.

When the teacher headed to the office, Gray and the relative followed her, Walker said. The relative allegedly became verbally abusive to the principal, Phil Brown. The two eventually left the building.

Brown could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Gray said Tuesday that the incident was a "big misunderstanding that has been blown out of proportion."

"It's a shame it happened. I have the student's best interest at heart. We need to all work together for the kids and get this behind us," he said.

Gray would not say if he believed there was a box used for discipline at Norwood School, but did say he had intended to go to the office and sign in. He would make no further comment about his visit.

Walker said the faculty senate asked her to draft a letter to the state Ethics Commission, asking members to investigate the incident.

The commission has not yet had time to respond to the letter, she said.

"There are procedures that should be followed when a parent or relative has a problem with school discipline. This really put us all on the spot," she said.

Superintendent Robert Kittle said schools in Harrison County do not discipline children by putting them in a box. He would make no further comment about the incident until it is more thoroughly investigated.

"We don't penalize children like that in our schools," he said.