During the 2009 Special Session of the Legislature, Senate Bill No. 1006 was approved. The Bill is now pending the Governor's signature.  The Bill creates major changes  to W. Va. Code §§ 18A-2-2, 18A-2-6 and 18A-2-7. As we all know, these statutes related to Reductions-in-Force ("RIF") and Transfers (a/k/a "March Madness"). Below are some of the timeline changes contained in the Bill that will modify the deadlines county school systems have grown accustomed to over the years (the underlined language is new language, the lined-out language will no longer be the applicable law). There will no longer be a March Madness. Personnel Season/March Madness will be coming much sooner with the signing of the Bill.

With regard to the RIF of professional employees:

(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 the first Monday of April February 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 that date February 1, to initiate termination of a continuing contract.

With regard to the RIF of service personnel employees:

The continuing contract of any such 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 the first day of April February 1 of the then current year, or by written resignation of the employee on or before that date. except that for the school year one thousand nine hundred eighty-eight--eighty-nine only, the board shall have until the fourth Monday of April, one thousand nine hundred eighty-nine, to initiate termination of a continuing contract The affected employee shall have has the right of a hearing before the board, if requested, before final action is taken by the board upon the termination of such employment.

With regard to the Transfer of professional employees:

(a) The superintendent, subject only to approval of the board, shall have authority to may assign, transfer, promote, demote or suspend school personnel and to recommend their dismissal pursuant to provisions of this chapter. However, an employee shall be notified in writing by the superintendent on or before the first Monday in April February 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 such the proposed transfer may request in writing a statement of the reasons for the proposed transfer. Such 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 the first Monday in May March 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 the first Monday in May March 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 such 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 such the persons' last known addresses within ten days following said the board meeting, of their having been so recommended for transfer and subsequent assignment and the reasons therefor.

With regard to Probationary personnel employees:

The superintendent at a meeting of the board on or before the first Monday in May March 15 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 shall also act upon the retention of other probationary employees as provided in sections four 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 persons' last-known addresses within ten days following said board meeting, of their not having been rehired or not having been recommended for rehiring.

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. Such The hearing shall be held at the next regularly scheduled 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.

Some additional relevant changes that relate to personnel decisions:

g) Any (1) A classroom teacher who gives written notice to the county board on or before the first day of February December 1 of the school year of their 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 teachers. 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.

 

Administrators will now be required to make personnel decisions much earlier than in years past. The new deadlines should be calendared by the personnel office so that all statutory notice deadlines are complied with (of course pending the Governor's signature). Should you have any questions or concerns on this topic, or any topic, please feel free to give our Education Practice Group a call.