WEST virginia legislature
2023 regular session
House Bill 2890
By Delegates Gearheart, Ellington, Westfall, Storch, Bridges, Foster, Butler, Householder, Cooper, Dean and Heckert
[Passed March 11, 2023; in effect ninety days from passage.]
AN ACT to amend and reenact §18A-5-1 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to authority of teachers and other school personnel for discipline of students; allowing student that behaves in a manner that obstructs the teaching or learning process of others in the classroom to be excluded; limiting application of certain discipline provisions to grades six through 12 and excluding application to elementary schools; mandating minimum duration of exclusion for certain behaviors; requiring principal to communicate with teacher within 24 hours about exclusion for certain behaviors; establishing time limit for teacher to report exclusion for certain behaviors to the West Virginia Education Information System; providing consequences for student removed for certain behaviors three times in one month; requiring county board policies to encourage the use of alternatives to discipline practices; requiring each county school board to ensure that each school implements a tier system policy to provide a framework for student behaviors and punishments; requiring principal to support the teacher in discipline of the students under certain conditions; prohibiting teacher from being reprimanded under certain conditions; and requiring procedure for teachers to appeal certain exclusion related actions of principal.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
(a) The teacher shall stand in the place of the parent(s), guardian(s), or custodian(s) in exercising authority over the school and has control of all students enrolled in the school from the time they reach the school until they have returned to their respective homes, except where transportation of students is provided, the driver in charge of the school bus or other mode of transportation shall exercise such authority and control over the students while they are in transit to and from the school.
(b) Subject to the rules of the state Board of Education, the teacher shall exclude from the school any student known to have, or who is suspected of having, any infectious disease, or any student who has been exposed to any infectious disease and shall immediately notify the proper health officer or medical inspector of the exclusion. Any student so excluded may not be readmitted to the school until he or she has complied with all the requirements of the rules governing those cases or has presented a certificate of health signed by the medical inspector or other proper health officer.
(c) The teacher, may exclude from his or her classroom or school bus any student who is guilty of disorderly conduct; who in any manner interferes with an orderly educational process; who behaves in a manner that obstructs the teaching or learning process of others in the classroom; who threatens, abuses or otherwise intimidates or attempts to intimidate a school employee or a student; who willfully disobeys a school employee; or who uses abusive or profane language directed at a school employee. Any student excluded shall be placed under the control of the principal of the school or a designee. The excluded student may be admitted to the classroom or school bus only when the principal, or a designee, provides written certification to the teacher that the student may be readmitted and specifies the specific type of disciplinary action, if any, that was taken. If the principal finds that disciplinary action is warranted, he or she shall provide written and, if possible, telephonic notice of the action to the parent(s), guardian(s), or custodian(s). When a student is excluded from a classroom or a school bus two times in one semester, and after exhausting all reasonable methods of classroom discipline provided in the school discipline plan, the student may be readmitted to the classroom or the school bus only after the principal, teacher and, if possible, the parent(s), guardian(s), or custodian(s) of the student have held a conference to discuss the student's disruptive behavior patterns, and the teacher and the principal agree on a course of discipline for the student and inform the parent(s), guardian(s), or custodian(s) of the course of action. Thereafter, if the student's disruptive behavior persists, upon the teacher's request, the principal may, to the extent feasible, transfer the student to another setting. The Legislature finds that isolating students or placing them in alternative learning centers may be the best setting for chronically disruptive students. The county board shall create more alternative learning centers or expand its capacity for alternative placements, subject to funding, to correct these students' behaviors so they can return to a regular classroom without engaging in further disruptive behavior.
(d) When a grade six through 12 teacher, excluding an elementary school teacher, determines that the behavior of the student is disorderly conduct, is interfering with an orderly educational process, or obstructs the teaching or learning process of others in the classroom:
(1) The student may be excluded from that teacher's classroom and if excluded may not re-enter that teacher's classroom for at least the remainder of the instructional day;
(2) If the student is excluded pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection;
(A) The principal shall communicate with the teacher within 24 hours of the student being excluded from the teacher's classroom about the exclusion;
(B) The teacher has 24 hours to create an electronic record and place the report of this action into the West Virginia Education Information System (WVEIS), without any repercussion to the teacher; and
(C) If the student is removed from a classroom a total of three times in one month for one or more of the behaviors set forth in this subsection, the student shall receive as determined by the principal an in-school suspension, an out-of-school suspension, or may be considered for placement in an alternative learning center if one is available within the school district.
(e) The Legislature finds that suspension from school is not appropriate solely for a student's failure to attend class. Therefore, a student may not be suspended from school solely for not attending class. Other methods of discipline may be used for the student which may include, but are not limited to, detention, extra class time, or alternative class settings.
(f) Corporal punishment of any student by a school employee is prohibited.
(g) Each county board is solely responsible for the administration of proper discipline in the public schools of the county and shall adopt policies consistent with the provisions of this section to govern disciplinary actions. These policies shall encourage the use of alternatives to discipline practices, provide for the training of school personnel in alternatives to discipline practices, and provide for encouraging the involvement of parent(s), guardian(s) or custodian(s) in the maintenance of school discipline. To promote a teaching and learning environment free from substantial classroom disturbances, each county board shall ensure that each school implements a tier system policy, with teacher input, to provide a framework for student behaviors and punishments. The policy shall be clear and concise with specific guidelines and examples. The principal shall support the teacher in the discipline of the students if proper cause and documentation is provided following the schoolwide discipline policy. The teacher may not be reprimanded if their actions are legal and within the structure of the county board's policy for student behavior and punishment. The county board policies shall also include an appeal procedure whereby a teacher may appeal to the county superintendent if a school principal refuses to allow the exclusion of a student from the classroom or if a teacher believes the school principal has prematurely ended the exclusion of a student from the classroom. The county boards shall provide for the immediate incorporation and implementation in schools of a preventive discipline program which may include the responsible student program and a student involvement program, which may include the peer mediation program, devised by the West Virginia Board of Education. Each county board may modify those programs to meet the particular needs of the county. The county boards shall provide in-service training for teachers and principals relating to assertive discipline procedures and conflict resolution. The county boards also may establish cooperatives with private entities to provide middle educational programs, which may include programs focusing on developing individual coping skills, conflict resolution, anger control, self-esteem issues, stress management and decision making for students, and any other program related to preventive discipline.
(h) For the purpose of this section:
(1) "Student" includes any child, youth or adult who is enrolled in any instructional program or activity conducted under board authorization and within the facilities of, or in connection with, any program under public school direction: Provided, That, in the case of adults, the student–teacher relationship shall terminate when the student leaves the school or other place of instruction or activity;
(2) “Teacher” means all professional educators as defined in §18A-1-1 of this code and includes the driver of a school bus or other mode of transportation; and
(3) "Principal" means the principal, assistant principal, vice principal or the administrative head of the school, or a professional personnel designee of the principal or the administrative head of the school.
(i) Teachers shall exercise other authority and perform other duties prescribed for them by law or by the rules of the state board not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter and chapter 18 of this code.
The Clerk of the House of Delegates and the Clerk of the Senate hereby certify that the foregoing bill is correctly enrolled.
Clerk of the House of Delegates
Clerk of the Senate
Originated in the House of Delegates.
In effect ninety days from passage.
Speaker of the House of Delegates
President of the Senate
The within is ................................................ this the...........................................
Day of ..........................................................................................................., 2023.