Flint: Foggin reinstated to classroom

PARKERSBURG – A Parkersburg South High School teacher suspended in March over a Facebook post will be back in the classroom next month.

David Foggin was reinstated last week after a meeting with district officials, Superintendent John Flint said Monday. Foggin was suspended for four days beginning March 18 after he made a post on his Facebook page, which seemed to mock the Parkersburg South Gay-Straight Alliance, a student group that supports gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.

The Facebook post was shared numerous times and garnered hundreds of comments both in support of and against the teacher. The suspension led to a public rally by supporters of Foggin and has received state and national attention in the media and by gay rights groups.

Teachers in Wood County Schools return to the classroom on Aug. 14 with classes resuming Aug. 18. Flint said Foggin will return to his position as a chemistry teacher at South.

“The reinstatement means he resumes the same role as when he left,” Flint said.

Flint said during the course of an investigation it was determined Foggin broke no laws. Flint said there was a discussion with Foggin on the use of social media.

“In our talks, we’ve had a meeting of the minds on policies and procedures at the school and county level,” Flint said. “I think we’re all in agreement with that.”

Flint said no further disciplinary action would be taken against Foggin, who lost no pay during the course of the suspension and administrative leave.

Flint said the original four-day suspension in March by former Superintendent Pat Law, who has retired, was without pay.

“Law never did take that suspension without pay to the board. Therefore, (Foggin) received pay for those four days,” Flint said. “The rest was an administrative leave with pay, so he was paid the entire time.”

Flint said he was pleased with the resolution of the situation.

“It’s time to turn the page and get back to the business of teaching kids and move on,” he said.

Foggin could not be reached for comment Monday. A number listed for Foggin in the phone book was instead a fax line.

Board President John Marlow said Monday the suspension and administrative leave were never brought before the Wood County Board of Education.

“That situation was handled through Dr. Law’s office and it was never really brought to us,” Marlow said. “I would be afraid to make a comment until I hear anything. I don’t know what the basis was for Dr. Law to keep him out of the classroom for so long and I don’t know the basis of Mr. Flint’s decision to return him.”

Marlow said he hopes the matter will be brought before the school board.

“I think we need to review the situation so that it doesn’t happen again,” he said, adding he had not been made aware of Foggin’s reinstatement.

“I knew there was going to be a review, but I didn’t know he was reinstated at this time.”

On July 21, the school board approved hiring Foggin as the head girls basketball coach, a paid position, at Blennerhassett Middle School. The hire was listed among hundreds of personnel changes on the board’s consent agenda.

Justin McKown, a teacher at Parkersburg South and adviser of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, said while he was sympathetic to the district facing a difficult decision, he was disappointed with the lack of decisive action.

“I’m rather surprised that the school board was not involved in the decision but I’m shocked that Mr. Foggin still has not, to my knowledge, chosen to issue an apology for making a statement that many members of the community, especially the LGBTQQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning) community, felt was deeply offensive,” McKown said Monday in a written statement. “The other aspect of the decision that I find worrisome is the possibility of others using a ‘Well, I didn’t mean that offensively’ excuse rather than being empathetic and apologizing.

“What needs to continue to be realized is that bullying (whether purposeful or otherwise) is unacceptable behavior from both students and faculty and that it is prevented in our schools. Hopefully Mr. Flint’s decision will prove to be one that encourages that.”

Media representatives of Fairness West Virginia, a Charleston-based organization which promotes fair treatment of all sexual orientations in West Virginia, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday. The organization had expressed interest in Foggin’s Facebook post and subsequent suspension.