Greenbrier West under the microscope

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

Raleigh County Sheriff James Canaday has been weighing whether to file juvenile petitions on two Greenbrier West student-athletes for an incident that occurred in Beckley on a school athletic trip earlier this winter.

While some news outlets reported yesterday that the juvenile petitions had already been filed, Canaday told RealWV on Thursday evening that the petitions have been drafted.

“Juvenile petitions have been typed up but not filed,” he said via phone.  “We are reviewing the appropriateness of the charges with the prosecuting attorney.”

According to Canaday, juvenile petitions generally lead to a parent/guardian being notified once a court date is scheduled. 

Asked whether any additional charges may be forthcoming involving adults related to the incident, Sheriff Canaday said, “If charges against any faults are appropriate then we will take the appropriate action.”

Benjamin Hatfield, who serves as Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney, further added, “The decision to file the juvenile petitions has been made and will occur soon.”

“This incident will have a lasting impact on the victims and lasting consequences on the perpetrators,” Hatfield says. “Life isn’t a game, and the sad thing is that this was entirely avoidable.”

Additionally, WVNSTV reported recently that two Greenbrier West students were subjected to being called racist epithets in person and via writing on a bathroom wall. They claim that staff told them such speech was protected by the First Amendment. 

All this comes on the heels of the school’s principal resigning from his post on Wednesday at a special board meeting. Adam Young submitted his resignation effective at the end of June 2024. 

According to Greenbrier County Schools, Young will not return to the school this year. Retired principal Randy Auvil has returned as acting principal, and the board will post the position for applications over the summer. 

“Adam needs to be with his family right now,” said Interim Superintendent Doug Clemons on Thursday. “The situation at West at needs a lot of attention. Randy Auvil is an excellent principal. He’s been welcomed with open arms. We need his stability there right now.”

Board of Education President Jeanie Wyatt added, “We have been involved with this since day one.  As you know with students and personnel, we are not allowed to discuss it.”

“We’re gonna do our best for our students,” Clemons said. 

Clemons was placed in the position of interim superintendent on Wednesday after the retirement of Jeff Bryant. 

Wyatt told RealWV that Bryant has been talking about retirement with the board for many months, after serving as superintendent for the last eight years and being an educator in Greenbrier County since 1980. 

“Unfortunately, some have drawn the incorrect conclusion that his (Jeff Bryant’s) retirement is related to the recent incidents in the school system. However, that is simply not the case,” said Clemons in a statement Friday morning.

The new superintendent will face an array of issues including budget cuts, personnel changes, and more. Across West Virginia, other county school boards face these same pressures. Declines in student enrollment have led to decreases in school budgets, forcing counties to cut positions and trim expenses. 

The Greenbrier County Board of Education is expected to hire a new superintendent this summer. 

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