LINCOLN COUNTY, WV (WOWK)—The West Virginia Board of Education voted Wednesday to lift the state of emergency for Lincoln County Schools.

Lifting the state of emergency returns the Lincoln County Schools to full approval status. WVBOE President Paul Hardesty says he expects the county to uphold the progress they’ve made and continue to make improvements.

“If we give you the keys back to the car, I’m going to ask you to keep the car in the center of the lane,” said Hardesty. “Because I promise you, and this is not a threat, if you run the car in the ditch, I will, and this board will, come and get the keys.”

In November of 2020, the state BOE voted unanimously to declare the state of emergency and gave the school system guidelines to improve conditions and create a more effective school system.

When a state of emergency takes place, it means that a county is one step away from being taken over by the state.

This was originally put into place citing multiple issues in the school district, including excessive overtime and issues with school busses.

Jeffrey Kelley, Lincoln County Schools Superintendent, says the school system will be focused on academic achievement, putting the kids’ learning first and staying the course of their long-term plan to maintain that focus.

“What it says is the work that’s been done by the people in Lincoln County has been recognized by the state board, and that they’re confident in our ability moving forward,” said Kelley. “We knew it was going to be a heavy lift. We knew it wasn’t something that was going to be changed over night, but we have great people down there, and we relied heavily on them. They came through in the end.”

Kelley also says a major part of the county’s ability to get to a point of having the state of emergency lifted is the teachers in the classrooms.

“We don’t go anywhere without them,” Kelley said. “The teachers in the classrooms are going to be the ones to make this happen. And they’ve already shown that they can do great things, and I expect that to continue.”

This is a developing story, and we will provide updates as new information becomes available.