Superintendent of West Va. schools for deaf, blind fired

ROMNEY, W.Va. (AP) — The West Virginia Board of Education has fired the superintendent that runs the state’s schools for blind and deaf students.

Martin Keller Jr.’s attorney says Keller is planning to file a federal lawsuit to get his job back and seek punitive damages.

The state school board hired Keller in August 2015 at an annual salary of $110,000. State education officials have said he was the first deaf superintendent in the schools’ history, which stretches back to 1870.

The board made the unanimous vote on Friday but did not explain the reason for the firing.

Kristin Anderson, the state Department of Education’s communications director, said that, to her knowledge, the department and board aren’t planning to close the school or move it.

Keller’s attorney, Christine Glover, said the lawsuit’s claims might include that the firing allegedly was in retaliation for Keller not taking an action that would have resulted in the schools closing.

Anderson declined comment on Keller’s allegations regarding retaliation and other issues because “it’s a personnel matter.”

Four people asked the board before its vote to keep Keller. Two of the speakers, Ruby Losh, president of the West Virginia School for the Deaf Alumni Association, and Marcus Soulsby, treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind of West Virginia, said their organizations support Keller.

“Students here have excelled because of his presence,” Losh said. “Having Dr. Keller here provides us with access to a deaf leader.”

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