West Virginia Board of Education appoints new State Superintendent of Schools

Board members appointed Michele Blatt during a special meeting Friday morning in Charleston.
Published: Jun. 23, 2023 at 10:01 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The West Virginia State School Board has chosen who will fill the state’s top educational job.

Board members appointed Michele Blatt during a special meeting Friday morning in Charleston. She will officially take over July 1 and receive an annual salary of $230,000.

The move came one week after outgoing Superintendent David Roach announced plans to retire. That came as board members expressed concern about his handling of a review into the spending of federal dollars in Upshur County.

Roach’s tenure lasted less than a year. Blatt saying Friday her appointment offers continuity.

“In order to increase achievement and do what we need to do for the students in West Virginia, we have to be able to have stability in leadership at the department of education,” she said.

Board President Paul Hardesty described Blatt’s appointment as comfortable saying it’s supported by the Governor and leadership in the state House and Senate.

“She’s a proven, known commodity that can take this job, July 1, and move forward for the children of West Virginia, because at the end of the day, we’re all here for that reason -- for the children,” he said during the meeting.

The appointment also winning praise from those working at the department and both teachers unions.

“She has a clear understanding of what is needed in the classroom,” said Fred Albert, president of AFT-WV “She knows what our teachers are going through. She knows what our students need.”

At the top of Blatt’s list -- making sure your child can read at grade level.

“I mean, if our students can’t read, they can’t be successful in the rest of their lives,” she said.

“When you talk about learning to read and being able to read at grade level, how far are we from attaining that,” asked WSAZ Reporter Curtis Johnson.

“We have a ways to go,” she replied. “We have a lot of catching up to do at the very beginning -- when they enter Pre-K or kindergarten.”

Leaders hope a new law -- the Third Grade Success Act -- will help the state attain that goal.

Blatt currently serves as deputy state superintendent.

Board members accepted Roach’s resignation at the beginning of Friday’s meeting. He was named state superintendent in August 2022 after serving as executive director of the West Virginia School Building Authority.

He replaced Clayton Burch, who had resigned from the position to become superintendent of the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind.