The Legislature hereby finds and declares that, while an educated and informed citizenry is essential to a democratic society, so also is the right, opportunity and guarantee that the citizenry have the right to notice and participation in any state-mandated educational reform which changes, or is intended to change, statewide data systems, statewide curriculum, or any state-mandated education reform which constitutes a significant change in the philosophy or goals of education in the public schools of West Virginia as that is defined by state board rule.
In order to ensure the right and opportunity of the citizenry to notice and participation in any proposed state-mandated educational reform, a procedure for notice to the citizenry and public hearings shall be developed.
Prior to the adoption or implementation of any state-mandated education reform which constitutes a significant change in the philosophy or goals of education in the public schools of West Virginia, the state Board of Education shall give notice and hold public hearings on the proposed education reform.
At least sixty days prior to the date set for hearings, the state board shall provide notification of the proposed education reform in the manner specified in section three of this article: Provided, That the provisions of this section do not apply to emergency rules promulgated by the state Board of Education pursuant to section ten, article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
From the date of the public notice through the date of the last scheduled public hearing, the state board shall receive written comments to the intended state-mandated education reform constituting a significant change in the philosophy or goals of education in the public schools of West Virginia. After the minimum period of sixty days following the public notice of hearings, the state board, or the state Department of Education if so delegated by the state board, shall hold not less than four public hearings at various locations in the state, during which hearings the general public and affected citizenry shall have the opportunity to have questions and objections to the proposed education reform answered and to have their views made part of the public record.
If, after receipt of written comments and the public hearings, the state board makes any change in the proposed education reform, it shall make a public announcement of that change not less than thirty days prior to its vote on the reform. The affected citizenry may submit written comments on any such changes.
(a) Prior to the implementation of any state-mandated educational reform which constitutes a significant change in the philosophy or goals in the public schools of this state and the hearings required thereon, the state board shall provide notice by submitting a copy of the proposed reform and a press release to public and private television and radio stations, disseminating press releases to newspapers of general circulation, and notifying the parents of students in all schools which might be affected by sending notices home with the students, or by distribution to the parents in any other reasonable manner. The notice and plans shall be in such form and contain such information as the state board may require to fully inform the citizenry of the nature and scope of the educational reform, including the proposed educational reform and the date, time and place of the public hearings.
(b) The state board shall provide timely written notice to any person who has asked the state board to place the person's name on a mailing list maintained by the state board.
(c) The state board shall maintain a verbatim record of all hearings.
(d) The state board may not impose fees or other charges for such a public hearing.
The extent of additional information received by the state board from the general public and the affected citizenry, with respect to the impact of the proposed educational reform, may be cause for the state board to change, alter, amend, implement or rescind the proposed educational reform.