Senate Bill No. 280
(By Senators Plymale, Barnes, Foster, Wells and Beach)
[Originating in the Committee on Education;
reported February 9, 2011.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §18A-2-2, §18A-2-6, §18A-2-7 and §18A-2-8a of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, all relating to changing certain deadlines associated with the termination, resignation and transfer of school personnel and rehiring of probationary employees.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §18A-2-2, §18A-2-6, §18A-2-7 and §18A-2-8a of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2. SCHOOL PERSONNEL.
§18A-2-2. Employment of teachers; contracts; continuing contract status; how terminated; dismissal for lack of need; released time; failure of teacher to perform contract or violation thereof; written notice bonus for teachers and professional personnel.
(a) Before entering upon their duties, all teachers shall execute a contract with their county boards, which shall state the salary to be paid and shall be in the form prescribed by the state superintendent. Each contract shall be signed by the teacher and by the president and secretary of the county board and shall be filed, together with the certificate of the teacher, by the secretary of the office of the county board: Provided, That when necessary to facilitate the employment of employable professional personnel and prospective and recent graduates of teacher education programs who have not yet attained certification, the contract may be signed upon the condition that the certificate is issued to the employee prior to the beginning of the employment term in which the employee enters upon his or her duties.
(b) Each teacher's contract, under this section, shall be designated as a probationary or continuing contract. A probationary teacher’s contract shall be for a term of not less than one nor more than three years, one of which shall be for completion of a beginning teacher internship pursuant to the provisions of section two-b, article three of this chapter, if applicable. If, after three years of such employment, the teacher who holds a professional certificate, based on at least a bachelor's degree, has met the qualifications for a bachelor’s degree and the county board enter into a new contract of employment, it shall be a continuing contract, subject to the following:
(1) Any teacher holding a valid certificate with less than a bachelor's degree who is employed in a county beyond the three-year probationary period shall upon qualifying for the professional certificate based upon a bachelor's degree, if reemployed, be granted continuing contract status; and
(2) A teacher holding continuing contract status with one county shall be granted continuing contract status with any other county upon completion of one year of acceptable employment if the employment is during the next succeeding school year or immediately following an approved leave of absence extending no more than one year.
(c) The continuing contract of any teacher shall remain in full force and effect except as modified by mutual consent of the school board and the teacher, unless and until terminated, subject to the following:
(1) A continuing contract may not be terminated except:
(A) By a majority vote of the full membership of the county board on or before February 1 May 1 of the then current year, after written notice, served upon the teacher, return receipt requested, stating cause or causes and an opportunity to be heard at a meeting of the board prior to the board's action on the termination issue; or
(B) By written resignation of the teacher on or before February 1 May 1 to initiate termination of a continuing contract;
(2) The termination shall take effect at the close of the school year in which the contract is terminated;
(3) The contract may be terminated at any time by mutual consent of the school board and the teacher;
(4) This section does not affect the powers of the school board to suspend or dismiss a principal or teacher pursuant to section eight of this article;
(5) A continuing contract for any teacher holding a certificate valid for more than one year and in full force and effect during the school year 1984-1985 shall remain in full force and effect;
(6) A continuing contract does not operate to prevent a teacher's dismissal based upon the lack of need for the teacher's services pursuant to the provisions of law relating to the allocation to teachers and pupil-teacher ratios. The written notification of teachers being considered for dismissal for lack of need shall be limited to only those teachers whose consideration for dismissal is based upon known or expected circumstances which will require dismissal for lack of need. An employee who was not provided notice and an opportunity for a hearing pursuant to this subsection may not be included on the list. In case of dismissal for lack of need, a dismissed teacher shall be placed upon a preferred list in the order of their length of service with that board. No teacher may be employed by the board until each qualified teacher upon the preferred list, in order, has been offered the opportunity for reemployment in a position for which he or she is qualified, not including a teacher who has accepted a teaching position elsewhere. The reemployment shall be upon a teacher's preexisting continuing contract and has the same effect as though the contract had been suspended during the time the teacher was not employed.
(d) In the assignment of position or duties of a teacher under a continuing contract, the board may provide for released time of a teacher for any special professional or governmental assignment without jeopardizing the contractual rights of the teacher or any other rights, privileges or benefits under the provisions of this chapter. Released time shall be provided for any professional educator while serving as a member of the Legislature during any duly constituted session of that body and its interim and statutory committees and commissions without jeopardizing his or her contractual rights or any other rights, privileges, benefits or accrual of experience for placement on the state minimum salary schedule in the following school year under the provisions of this chapter, board policy and law.
(e) Any teacher who fails to fulfill his or her contract with the board, unless prevented from doing so by personal illness or other just cause or unless released from his or her contract by the board, or who violates any lawful provision of the contract, is disqualified to teach in any other public school in the state for a period of the next ensuing school year and the state Department of Education or board may hold all papers and credentials of the teacher on file for a period of one year for the violation: Provided, That marriage of a teacher is not considered a failure to fulfill, or violation of, the contract.
(f) Any classroom teacher, as defined in section one, article one of this chapter, who desires to resign employment with a county board or request a leave of absence, the resignation or leave of absence to become effective on or before July 15 of the same year and after completion of the employment term, may do so at any time during the school year by written notification of the resignation or leave of absence and any notification received by a county board shall automatically extend the teacher's public employee insurance coverage until August 31 of the same year.
(g) (1) A classroom teacher who gives written notice to the county board on or before December 1 of the school year of his or her retirement from employment with the board at the conclusion of the school year shall be paid $500 from the Early Notification of Retirement line item established for the Department of Education for this purpose, subject to appropriation by the Legislature. If the appropriations to the Department of Education for this purpose are insufficient to compensate all applicable teachers, the Department of Education shall request a supplemental appropriation in an amount sufficient to compensate all such those teachers giving the written notice. Additionally, if funds are still insufficient to compensate all applicable teachers, the priority of payment is for teachers who give written notice the earliest. This payment shall not be counted as part of the final average salary for the purpose of calculating retirement.
(2) The position of a classroom teacher providing written notice of retirement pursuant to this subsection may be considered vacant and the county board may immediately post the position as an opening to be filled at the conclusion of the school year. If a teacher has been hired to fill the position of a retiring classroom teacher prior to the start of the next school year, the retiring classroom teacher is disqualified from continuing his or her employment in that position. However, the retiring classroom teacher may be permitted to continue his or her employment in that position and forfeit the early retirement notification payment if, after giving notice of retirement in accordance with this subsection, he or she becomes subject to a significant unforeseen financial hardship, including a hardship caused by the death or illness of an immediate family member or loss of employment of a spouse. Other significant unforeseen financial hardships shall be determined by the county superintendent on a case-by-case basis. This subsection does not prohibit a county school board from eliminating the position of a retiring classroom teacher.
§18A-2-6. Continuing contract status for service personnel; termination.
(a) After three years of acceptable employment, each service personnel employee person who enters into a new contract of employment with the board shall be granted continuing contract status: Provided, That a service personnel employee person holding continuing contract status with one county shall be granted continuing contract status with any other county upon completion of one year of acceptable employment if such the employment is during the next succeeding school year or immediately following an approved leave of absence extending no more than one year. The continuing contract of any such the employee shall remain in full force and effect except as modified by mutual consent of the school board and the employee, unless and until terminated with written notice, stating cause or causes, to the employee, by a majority vote of the full membership of the board before February May 1 of the then current year, or by written resignation of the employee on or before that date. The affected employee has the right of a hearing before the board, if requested, before final action is taken by the board upon the termination of such his or her employment.
(b) Those employees who have completed three years of acceptable employment as of the effective date of this legislation shall be granted continuing contract status.
§18A-2-7. Assignment, transfer, promotion, demotion, suspension and recommendation of dismissal of school personnel by superintendent; preliminary notice of transfer; hearing on the transfer; proof required.
(a) The superintendent, subject only to approval of the board, may assign, transfer, promote, demote or suspend school personnel and recommend their dismissal pursuant to provisions of this chapter. However, an employee shall be notified in writing by the superintendent on or before February April 1 if he or she is being considered for transfer or to be transferred. Only those employees whose consideration for transfer or intended transfer is based upon known or expected circumstances which will require the transfer of employees shall be considered for transfer or intended for transfer and the notification shall be limited to only those employees. Any teacher or employee who desires to protest the proposed transfer may request in writing a statement of the reasons for the proposed transfer. The statement of reasons shall be delivered to the teacher or employee within ten days of the receipt of the request. Within ten days of the receipt of the statement of the reasons, the teacher or employee may make written demand upon the superintendent for a hearing on the proposed transfer before the county board. of education The hearing on the proposed transfer shall be held on or before March May 15. At the hearing, the reasons for the proposed transfer must be shown.
(b) The superintendent at a meeting of the board on or before March May 15 shall furnish in writing to the board a list of teachers and other employees to be considered for transfer and subsequent assignment for the next ensuing school year. An employee who was not provided notice and an opportunity for a hearing pursuant to subsection (a) of this section may not be included on the list. All other teachers and employees not so listed shall be considered as reassigned to the positions or jobs held at the time of this meeting. The list of those recommended for transfer shall be included in the minute record of the meeting and all those so listed shall be notified in writing, which notice shall be delivered in writing, by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the persons' last known addresses within ten days following the board meeting, of their having been so recommended for transfer and subsequent assignment and the reasons therefor.
(c) The superintendent's authority to suspend school personnel shall be temporary only pending a hearing upon charges filed by the superintendent with the board of Education and the period of suspension may not exceed thirty days unless extended by order of the board.
(d) The provisions of this section respecting hearing upon notice of transfer is not applicable in emergency situations where the school building becomes damaged or destroyed through an unforeseeable act and which act necessitates a transfer of the school personnel because of the aforementioned condition of the building.
§18A-2-8a. Notice to probationary personnel of rehiring or nonrehiring; hearing.
(a) The superintendent at a meeting of the board on or before March 15 May 30 of each year shall provide in writing to the board a list of all probationary teachers that he or she recommends to be rehired for the next ensuing school year. The board shall act upon the superintendent's recommendations at that meeting in accordance with section one of this article. The board at this same meeting also shall also act upon the retention of other probationary employees as provided in sections two and five of this article. Any such probationary teacher or other probationary employee who is not rehired by the board at that meeting shall be notified in writing, by certified mail, return receipt requested, to such the persons' last known addresses within ten days following said the board meeting, of their not having been rehired or not having been recommended for rehiring.
(b) Any probationary teacher who receives notice that he or she has not been recommended for rehiring or other probationary employee who has not been reemployed may within ten days after receiving the written notice request a statement of the reasons for not having been rehired and may request a hearing before the board. The hearing shall be held at the next regularly scheduled county board of education meeting or a special meeting of the board called within thirty days of the request for hearing. At the hearing, the reasons for the nonrehiring must be shown.