The state Supreme Court of Appeals voted 3-2 Tuesday to hear the Fayette County Board of Education’s appeal of an August ruling that would have forced it to re-open Gauley Bridge High School.

According to Supreme Court public information specialist Kandi Greter, both sides can now plead their case in front of the justices when the case shifts to the argument docket. That, Greter said, will likely occur this coming fall, since the argument docket for the current term, which expires June 30, has already been established.

In Tuesday’s motion hearing, Justices Robin Davis, Larry Starcher and Joseph Albright chose to hear the appeal, while Justices Elliott Maynard and Brent Benjamin voted against moving the appeal forward. No reasoning for their votes was provided.

In the lawsuit in question, Stephanie Adkins and three other members of the Gauley Bridge Citizens for Equal Education were successful in seeking a writ of mandamus last August from Kanawha County Circuit Judge Charles King to reverse the school closure. In issuing a writ of mandamus and a preliminary injunction, King accepted an argument by the citizens group that the county board failed to approve the reasons and supporting data for the closures at least 30 days before closure hearings, as required by law.

However, the county and state boards of education then petitioned the Supreme Court, which voted 5-0 the following week to grant an emergency stay of King’s order, thereby allowing the closure to proceed when school began in August.

At the same time, attorneys for the boards appealed King’s ruling.

On Tuesday, Fayette County Superintendent Helen Whitehair said she was happy the Supreme Court opted to hear the appeal.

“We’re pleased to have the opportunity for them to hear the appeal,” she said. “I would hate to have to uproot those children again.”

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