The Good ‘Ole Boys of West Virginia

The Good ‘Ole Boys of West Virginia

Berkeley County has the makings of a scandalous novel- filled with lies, affairs, nepotism and coverup, but it’s not a made-up story.

In September of 2018, Eagle School teacher aide Alexandria Callie Tost, the daughter of Michelle Tost (Assistant Director of Special Education in Berkeley County) was arrested for drug use and admitted to snorting heroine in the student bathroom. The charges against Michelle Tost’s daughter were dropped.

In November of 2018, Michelle Tost was recorded telling Kasey Murphy, mother of a son abused at Berkeley Heights, that “we have heard very good things about these aides,” referring to the ones on paid leave for abuse.

Amanda Stevens, principal of Marlowe Elementary, was appointed in May to an academic instructional mentor position, despite allegations of bullying by a teacher who claims Stevens told her she was, “of little to no use or value.”

Principal Ron Stephens at Musselman High School, appears to have never filed a report when a teacher reported they had witnessed a fellow teacher having sex with a child at the softball field press box. That teacher is still employed by the school system and Stephens has since been promoted to Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Services.

Brooks Kursey, son of Margaret Kursey (Deputy Superintendent of Berkeley County), was handpicked for an assistant principal job at Potomack Interte School after being a teacher for just three years.

Amanda Dellinger, daughter of Don Dellinger (also a Deputy Superintendent of Berkeley County Schools) replaced well-liked William Fultineer (transferred to Spring Mills Primary School) as Assistant Principal of Hedgesville High School this year.

Jay Dellinger, brother of Don Dellinger and owner of Lawn Life, was paid $50,000 for field aeration at Hedgesville High School in 2014.

Megan E. Nisewarner, an accountant in the school district’s finance office, raised questions with the district about the lack of proper tax information on file for Lawn Life and noted the absence of bid process for the contract.

Nisewarner also questioned the Board regarding Superintendent Manny Arvon’s use of a school vehicle for a three hundred mile road trip.

Less than a week after she voiced concerns, Nisewarner was terminated.

The school system claimed it was due to a charge for possession of marijuana though those charges were dropped. She sued the school board for using the criminal allegations as an excuse to terminate her, not only to conceal acts of wrongdoing she had uncovered, but to destroy her credibility as a whistleblower.

That claim was disputed by Dr. William Queen (President of Berkeley County School Board) and Superintendent Manny Arvon who stated, “I have determined that your conduct has a direct relationship to your employment with Berkeley County Schools.”

Trey Arvon, Manny’s son, resigned last year from his job as assistant principal at Martinsburg High School.

Marc Arvon, Manny’s brother who retired as principal of Spring Mills High School, and was allegedly repeatedly warned by staff members about drug use of teachers and students. He referred to his new school as “The Palace” and would instruct teachers to worry about themselves.

In 2015, a well-loved history teacher and assistant football coach at Spring Mills High School, overdosed from heroin at age 33. Nothing was shared publicly about the drug use of the adored teacher and a track and baseball field was rightly named for him.

In 2016, recent Spring Mills graduates overdosed on drugs at the Motel 6 in Spring Mills. Several were hospitalized and one was found dead at his home a few hours after the incident.

Marc Arvon, brother of Superintendent Manny Arvon, appeared to have never acted on teacher reports that teachers and students were using drugs at Spring Mills High School.

In addition to turning a blind eye, Marc Arvon was also against the use of drug sniffing canines in his school as a deterrent. A former canine handler in Berkeley County stated, “On the rare occasion we were called to his palace he would announce our presence over the PA to the entire school. You can imagine what happened with anything that shouldn’t have been there after his announcement.

In 2017, a student was called to the office at Spring Mills High School for suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol. His parent was called in to discuss and he left school in his own car, led the school resource officer on a high speed chase and crashed into a house. He was seriously injured, but never charged with a traffic infraction or DUI and was allowed by Marc Arvon to finish the baseball season.

Karen Hensell, Director of Service Personnel and Staffing, held a two hour meeting on December 21, 2018 and shared that Manny Arvon was a wonderful person and that nobody should be talking bad about him unless they wanted to find another job.

In 2014, the mother of a seven year old boy reported to Tana Burkhart, principal of Opequon Elementary that she had been told by an aide that first grade teacher Loretta Redmer had abused her seven year old son.

In 2018, Principal Burkhart called the parent of a special education student to report that Redmer had hit her son who has autism, epilepsy and is nonverbal.

Karen Petrucci (the ex-sister-in-law of Burkhart), a special education coordinator with the school system, apologized, though the teacher was never charged despite bruises on the boy’s face and back.

Redmer is now a preschool teacher at St. Leo’s in Inwood in a PreK- class funded by Berkeley County Schools. Since the abuse came to light, two children have been moved to another Berkeley County school with a state run PreK program. As of Friday, she was still an employee.

In October of 2018, Amber Boeckmann, Principal of Berkeley Heights Elementary, told teachers and staff that the abuse recording was just a misunderstanding. She forbid them to discuss the situation in or out of school.

As of yesterday, Miss Boeckman is no longer at the school.

Her sister-in-law , Dr. Tressie Montene Duffy, lost her medical license in 2016 and was sentenced to a year in prison for breaking a litany of medical and ethics laws and standards. Including forcing employees in her Martinsburg office to fill out blank prescription slips for powerful painkillers and other drugs. She plead guilty to seven counts of aiding and abetting the distribution of oxycodone, a Schedule II drug that is frequently abused in the state of West Virginia which has one of the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in the country.

Dr. Duffy’s brother in law is Sergeant Adam Albaugh at the Martinsburg Police Department.

What’s next?

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