WVEA--LEGAL SERVICES PLAN

PDF of the WVEA Legal Services Plan
WVEA LSP Appendix a & B


 
I. GENERAL PROVISIONS

A. Goal
 The WVEA and NEA are committed to providing comprehensive legal services to affiliated local associations and/or individual members in all matters related to association activities and employment through the NEA Unified Legal Services Program, the Educational Employees Liability Program, the UniServ program and the WVEA General Counsel.

B. Effective Date
 This policy shall govern the disposition of all applications for legal assistance filed after August 31, 2013.

C. Non-discrimination
 No applicant for legal assistance shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, creed, gender, sexual orientation, age, handicap, marital status, or economic status.

D. General Exclusions
 The WVEA shall not assist any member or affiliate in any legal action advocating a position or seeking an outcome which is contrary to WVEA/NEA policy or interests. Failure to observe the procedures established by this plan shall be grounds for refusal of assistance.

II. DEFINITIONS
 
A.  Appeal
 Any procedure by which a court is asked to review the decision of a lower court, an administrative agency or a county board of education.

 B.  Application For Legal Services
 The form supplied by WVEA which shall be completed by the member, or local association, or WVEA staff person, and promptly returned to WVEA so that legal funding for representation may be considered.

 C.  Child Protective Services
 “Child Protective Services” (CPS) shall mean an agency that investigates allegations
of child abuse or neglect in an employment-related matter.

 D.  Corporate Matters
 Any matter relating to:

 1.  establishing, changing or defining any affiliated county education association documents, or
 
     2.    legal claims or charges against county education associations.

 E.  Days
      “Days” shall mean calendar days.

 F.  DLMS
      “DuShane Legal Management System” (DLMS) shall mean the software utilized to administer the ULSP.

 G.  Eligible Legal Services
      “Eligible Legal Services” shall mean legal services provided in an employment- related matter in which all of the following elements are present.

 1. Named Client: a specific “Unified Member” (as defined), specific group of members, or specific organization;

 2. Dispute: an imminent or inevitable dispute over an employment-related matter that has or will impact the Named Client;

 3. Actual/Threatened Harm: the Named Client has been given formal notice of
action against him or her or it, and/or is threatened with such harm;

 4. Authorization: A document (hereafter referred to as a Legal Services Application) stating that the ULSP Coordinator has approved the employment-related matter for funding and has assigned it to an attorney for resolution; and

 5. Attorney/Client Relationship: An attorney/client relationship has been
established between the Named Client and assigned attorney and that
relationship has been documented in a manner that establishes the nature,
terms, extent, duration and/or limits of services to be provided by the assigned
attorney through the ULSP program. State affiliates should consider best
practices and state legal ethical requirements when determining the best manner
in which to establish and document the attorney/client relationship.

 H.  Employment Related Matter
 1. Except as otherwise provided in Number 2 of this subsection, “employment-related matter" shall mean any matter involving:

a. A dispute between the school district, college or university system or other institution involved in the teaching-learning process and

 i.   one or more of its employees who are Unified Members of the WVEA/NEA, 
 ii.  one or more of its employees who are not Unified Members of the    WVEA/NEA, if a local affiliate of the state affiliate and the NEA is obligated to provide legal assistance pursuant to a duty of fair representation, or
 iii.  one or more local affiliates of the state affiliate and the NEA or the state affiliate, if the NEA affiliate local is obligated to provide legal assistance pursuant to a duty of fair representation;

b. A dispute between an employer and
 i. one or more unified members of a state affiliate in the state affiliates
membership category that is equivalent to the NEA’s active membership category as provided for by Bylaw 2-1.b(iv) relating to "Gateway" members,
 ii. one or more of its employees who are not Unified Members if the NEA
affiliate local is obligated to provide legal assistance pursuant to a duty of fair representation, or
 iii.  one or more NEA-affiliated locals; or,      

 c. a dispute between an employer and one or more of its employees or an employee organization if the state affiliate and the NEA agree that the matter is precedential for Unified Members; 

 d. an effort by a local affiliate of the state affiliate and the NEA or the state affiliate to organize, secure or retained recognition as representative for a group that includes (or has the potential to include) Unified Members;

 e. a legal proceeding instituted by one or more local affiliates of the state affiliate and the NEA or the state affiliate on behalf of one or more Unified Members relating to events occurring or actions taken in connection with the employment of said member(s);

 f. the obligation of one or more affiliates of the state affiliate and the NEA or the state affiliate to provide legal assistance pursuant to a duty of fair representation;

 g. the defense of employment-related criminal charges brought against one or more Unified Members; or,

 h. a dispute between the state and/or an agency of the state and one or more individuals or entities if the state affiliate and the NEA agree that the matter is precedential for Unified Members.

 i. “Employment-related matter” shall not mean a matter:

(a)  in which the applicant for legal assistance is being challenged by one or more rank-and-file employees or an employee organization as a result of an action taken by the applicant as a management representative or involves assistance to the management representative concerning action taken against a non-management member; or

(b)  which is covered by worker’s compensation; or

(c)  which raises a claim of libel, slander or other defamatory conduct unless the conduct complained of has a damaging effect on the WVEA, its affiliates, the United Education Profession as a whole or upon any officer or agent of the WVEA or its affiliates.

 2. Ineligible Legal Services shall mean the type of legal services illustrated by the list in Appendix A to the ULSP Guidelines effective September 1, 2013 (Illustrative List of Ineligible Employment-Related Matters), which can be periodically updated as necessary by the NEA with the approval of the NEA Executive Committee.

 I.  Expenditure
 1. Except as otherwise provided in Number 2 of this subsection, “expenditure” shall mean a financial obligation for eligible legal services incurred in an eligible employment-related matter.

 2. Expenditure shall not include expenditures for this types of administrative activities listed in Appendix B (Illustrative List of Ineligible Expenditures). The Illustrative List of Ineligible Expenditures shall be periodically updated as necessary by the NEA with the approval of the NEA Executive Committee.

 J.  Fiscal Year
 "Fiscal year" shall mean September 1 through August 31.

 K.  Legal Services Application
 "Legal Services Application shall mean an NEA-developed online application or an
affiliate-developed document that clearly describes:
  1. The Named Client;

   2. Verification of membership (where applicable);
   3. Date of the occurrence (as defined);

   4. The employment-related dispute with sufficient description to determine ULSP eligibility;

   5. The extent, duration, and/or limits on the services being authorized; and

   6. The legal firm or service provider authorized to represent the Named Client.

 L.  Legal Service Provider
 "Legal Service Provider" is defined as:

1. A licensed attorney, paralegal, or law clerk who is preparing for, or in the
course of, a grievance arbitration, an impasse resolution procedure, or an administrative or court proceeding in connection with an employment-related matter;

2. A licensed attorney who is providing training to state or local affiliate staff or
Unified Members to provide services in connection with an employment-related matter;

3. an arbitrator, hearing officer, or other third-party neutral in a grievance
arbitration or administrative proceeding in connection with an employment-related matter involving dismissal, non-renewal, or layoffs; and

4. a mediator or other third-party neutral when alternative dispute resolution is
used in connection with an employment-related matter, or a dispute between or among Unified Members where alternative dispute resolution is used to resolve the issue.


M.  Legal Services Coordinator
 The WVEA, a Legal Services Coordinator, shall have responsibility for the daily   administration of the WVEA Legal Services Plan. The WVEA General Counsel shall be the Legal Services Plan Coordinator.

N.  Occurrence
 "Occurrence" shall mean an action or series of related actions that may reasonably lead to, form the basis of, or result in an employment-related dispute. 

O.  Participating Attorney
 "Participating attorney" shall mean an attorney who has agreed to participate in the state affiliate legal services program and whose name appears on the list of participating attorneys submitted to the NEA by the state affiliate. The state affiliate may modify its list of participating attorneys at any time.

P.  Unified Member
 "Unified Member shall mean an individual who is a member of the national association (NEA), state affiliate, and local affiliate (where available). For a state affiliate to be eligible for reimbursement of legal services, the following membership requirements apply.

1. Individuals receiving legal services must maintain membership in one of the following NEA membership categories as defined by the NEA Bylaws: Active, Retired, Reserve.

 2. Unless provided otherwise by NEA Bylaws, a person who is eligible for more than one (1) membership category must join the NEA in the membership category that provides the greatest degree of participation in NEA governance Bylaw 2-1h.

  3. Active, Retired, and Reserve memberships are defined in the NEA Bylaws as follows:
 a.   NEA active membership shall be open to any person who is working in a qualifying          employment (as defined in Bylaws); which is on a limited leave of absence (less than 6 months) from qualifying employment, or who is serving as an executive officer of NEA or a state or local affiliate. Active membership is also open to a person who (i) has been laid off from a qualifying employment due to reduction in force as long as such person is eligible to be recalled, or for 3 years, whichever is longer or (ii) has been discharged for as long as a legal challenge to such discharge is pending. Bylaw 2-1.b and 8.11.c.

b. NEA Retired membership shall be open to any person who is at least 45 years of age or who is eligible to receive a pension from an educational employment retirement system (including Social Security) and who was employed for at least 5 years in a position qualifying him or her for Active membership but who is no longer employed or who retires and returns to either day-to-day or regular full- or part-time educational employment as part of an early retirement agreement with the local school district. Bylaw 2-1.d and 8-11.c

c.   NEA Reserves membership shall be open to any person who is on a leave of absence of 6 months or more for qualifying employment or was an active member but whose employment status no longer qualifies him or her for active membership. Bylaw 2-1f.

4. Members receiving legal services must meet the criteria set forth below.
  a. NEA Active Membership
            i. individual must be an Active Member or on the date he/she requests
               legal services.

      ii. individual must be an Active member on the date of the occurrence
                giving rise to the need of legal services.

      iii. individual must maintain continuous Active Membership while receiving legal     
                 services.

     b.    NEA Retired Membership

            i. individual must be Retired member on the date he/she requests legal services. 
            ii. individual must be an Active member on the date of the occurrence
                giving rise to the need of legal services.

            iii. individual must maintain continuous Retired Membership while receiving    
                 legal services.

    c.    NEA Reserve Membership

            i. individual must be Reserve member on the date he/she request legal services.

            ii. individual must be an Active member on the date of the occurrence
                giving rise to the need of legal services.

            iii. individual must maintain continuous Reserve Membership while receiving    
                 legal services.

   d. With respect to the continuous membership requirements, a member whose NEA  
     membership has terminated may reinstate membership during a grace period of one 
(1) year after the membership has lapsed or has been cancelled if the individual can 
establish that he or she was not notified of the need to maintain membership. 
 5. State affiliates will determine the membership requirements at the state affiliate level subject
    to the following. 
  a. If active membership is available in the state affiliate, any person who is an NEA      
Active member must be an Active member in the state affiliate in order for the state affiliate to receive reimbursement for legal services. If a state affiliate does not have an available Active membership category, the state affiliate, by action of its board of directors (or equivalent governing body) can enter into an agreement with the NEA pursuant to which the state affiliate agrees to function as NEA’s agent for the delivery of the ULSP services to such individuals and whereby the state affiliate identifies the state membership category it deems appropriate or determines that there will be no appropriate category. See Bylaw 2-1.b.

         i. If a state affiliate identifies an appropriate membership category,
            then the person receiving legal services must be an NEA active member
            and a member in that category for the state to receive reimbursement for
            legal services.

         ii. If a state affiliate determines that there will be no appropriate membership
             category, then the person must become an NEA Reserve member in order
             for the state to receive reimbursement for legal services.

         iii. If the state affiliate does not enter into an agreement with the NEA
              accomplishing (i) or (ii) above, then the state affiliate will not be eligible    
              for reimbursement under the ULSP program. 

b. If retired membership with participation in governance is available in the state affiliate,
    any person who is an NEA Retired member must be a Retired member in the state
    affiliate in order for the state affiliate to receive reimbursement for legal services.

         i. individual must be a Retired member on the date he/she requests legal services.

         ii. individual must be an Active member on the date of the occurrence
             giving rise to the need of legal services.

         iii. individual must maintain continuous Retired Membership while receiving    
              legal services. 
c. If Reserve membership is available in the State Affiliate, any person who is an NEA
             Reserve member must be a Reserve member in the state affiliate in order for the state
             affiliate to receive reimbursement for legal services.
 

III. ELIGIBILITY

 Organizational and staff services may only be provided to members of WVEA.  Certain programs of service to members of state affiliates of the National Education Association arise out of joint WVEA/NEA contractual agreements. The status of being a Unified Member is a condition which must be met by employees eligible for membership in order to avail themselves of such WVEA services.

 Persons who receive services through WVEA staff or retained legal counsel under the terms of the WVEA Legal Services Program, and in matters relating to their employment with an employer school board or other eligible employment, shall be "Unified Members" at the times and under the circumstances described and required herein.


IV. COVERAGE

A.  Defense
 The WVEA shall provide a legal defense under the terms of this plan, in any eligible “Employment Related Matter,” provided that the matter cannot be resolved administratively with the assistance of an Organizational Development Specialist. Such matter shall need not be limited to:

1.  a member’s statutory contract suspension, termination, non-renewal, continuing contract rights and any rights protected by a collective bargaining agreement;

 2.  the deprivation of a member’s rights, privileges or benefits specifically provided by West Virginia laws, the individual member’s contract of employment, or the board of education’s policy;

 3.  teaching assignments;

 4.  demotion and/or teaching or building assignments for disciplinary reasons;

5.   salary disputes;

6. leaves of absence and/or reinstatement rights;

7. discipline of pupils if not covered by professional liability insurance;

8. certification matters if such actions jeopardize the member’s current contract rights;

 9.   personnel file matters if such could have an adverse effect on the member’s retention,   promotion, professional reputation, or ability to seek other teaching employment;

 10.  criminal matters, not emanating from the member’s implied or express duties for which the member has previously admitted guilt, if such matters jeopardize current contract rights;

 11.  A matter, not emanating from the member’s implied or express duties of which the member has previously admitted guilt, involving an inquiry, investigation, or formal charges or petition filed against a member by the State Board of Educator Certification or by the Child Protective Services or related governmental entity for an employment-related activity.   

 12.  Employment-related criminal charges:
 The education employee liability (EEL) policy which is a benefit of WVEA-NEA membership provides that any member who is charged with a crime as a result of employment-related activity shall be reimbursed by the insurance company for attorney fees incurred in the defense of those charges, provided that the member is exonerated (found not guilty or charges dismissed). When the criminal charges result from administering corporal punishment, the insurance company will reimburse attorney fees regardless of the outcome. In both instances, reimbursement is limited to $30,000.
 
 The WVEA will pay up to the first $15,000 in attorney fees incurred by a member in the defense of employment-related criminal charges from the outset of those charges.  Subsequent fees will be paid on a percentage basis as follows:
  
   a. The next $1,000 or fraction thereafter $15,000
       WVEA 90 percent—Member 10 percent
   b. The next $1,000 or fraction thereafter $16,000
       WVEA 80 percent—Member 20 percent
   c. The next $1,000 or fraction thereafter $17,000
       WVEA 70 percent—Member 30 percent
   d. The next $1,000 or fraction thereafter $18,000
       WVEA 60 percent—Member 40 percent
   e. The next $1,000 or fraction thereafter $19,000
       WVEA 50 percent—Member 50 percent
 

 After $20,000 the member is responsible for all attorney fees charged in defense of the matter. The WVEA will not be responsible for payment of more than $18,500 in any criminal case.
       
 The WVEA will provide payment of such attorney fees as set out herein regardless of the outcome of the charges as long as the member complies with all the remaining provisions of this plan related to procuring legal service.
      
 The attorney fees provided by the WVEA are not in addition to the fees reimbursed by the EEL insurance carrier, but are intended to reduce the upfront expenses of the member while the criminal action is pending. In the event that the EEL insurance carrier reimburses attorney fees incurred in the defense of employment-related criminal charges, the member must agree to assign such amount of the reimbursement to the WVEA that covers the amount of fees actually paid by the WVEA in the defense of the member. Any attorney fees reimbursed in excess of the fees actually paid by the WVEA shall be paid to the member to reimburse the member for any fees he or she may have had to pay in their own defense.

B.  Enforcement of state law
 The WVEA shall assist affiliated county associations and individual members, subject to the terms of this plan, in suits to enforce state law where such law has an impact on association interests, the educational system, or the safety of an individual teacher. Such assistance may include, but shall not be limited to:
        1. actions to enforce the Open Meeting Law;
        2.  actions to enforce the Freedom of Information Act;
        3.  charges filed under the Teacher Assault Law.

C.  Corporate Matters
 The WVEA shall assist affiliated county education associations in any matter relating to organizational structure. Such matters shall include:

       1.  consultation regarding organizational documents;
       2.  advice regarding the organizational relationship with WVEA;
       3.  consultation and representation regarding political activities.

 The WVEA shall not assist in disputes between:

1. affiliated county education associations, employees, officers, agents or members of affiliated associations;

2. affiliated county education associations and/or the WVEA and/or the NEA;
3. affiliated county education associations and/or the WVEA and/or NEA employees, officers or agents.
 

D.  Liability Insurance
The WVEA shall provide each of its members with comprehensive professional   liability insurance in the amount of $1 million.
 
 Such insurance policy shall cover damages which a member becomes legally obligated to pay as a result of claims arising in the course of the member’s employment; when necessary shall provide for the defense of any member in any civil suit arising out of an event in the course of the member’s employment, and any charges of criminal negligence or criminal charges which result from the use of corporal punishment.
 
 No expenses covered by the liability policy shall be paid from the WVEA general fund.
 
 A description of the liability policy shall be made available to all WVEA members.  The policy shall be that negotiated by NEA.
 

E.  Costs and Fines
 The WVEA shall pay all necessary and reasonable expenses arising out of any legal action covered by the terms of this plan, provided that all appropriate procedures have been followed. Such expenses shall include, but not be limited to, court costs, filing fees, and attorney’s fees. The following expenses shall be excluded and are not reimbursable by the WVEA: fax, copying and long distance expenses, fees for monitoring the status of a case that is fully submitted to a court, and fees for assisting in disability, workers compensation and insurance applications telephone charges. All fines shall be paid by the individual member or affiliate unless otherwise provided for under this Plan.
 

F.  Reimbursement of court costs and legal fees:
1.   Prior to receiving financial assistance under this plan, the applicant must agree to repay WVEA for its legal expenses in relation to the matter in question under the following circumstances: Repayment to WVEA will be upon award, settlement or insurance payment to the applicant where such payment is in excess of the applicant’s actual financial loss. WVEA must, in any event, be reimbursed with amounts recovered which have been specifically designated as attorney’s fees or court costs.

2.   WVEA will be responsible for collection of such recoveries and forwarding to the NEA its fair share of the legal costs of the case, according to procedures provided by the NEA.


V. PROCEDURES

A.  Legal Services Request, Response and Appointment of Plan Attorney
1. A timely request for legal services assistance shall come from the member, or
an employee in the WVEA Help Center on behalf of the member, or the local affiliate, or from another WVEA employee designated to assist the member. The request shall be in writing or via e-mail, and submitted to the Legal Services Coordinator.

2. The member requesting legal services must deliver an executed LSP
Application for Individual Employment Rights Assistance to the LSP Administrator or designee upon making the request for legal services, or at a later date as required by the LSP Administrator or designee. WVEA must have an executed Application on file to continue funding for legal services. The application shall be administered and revised as needed by the LSP Administrator or the Executive Director.
 

B.  Funding for Legal Services
1. Legal Services funding shall be authorized in writing only and shall not be
authorized by anyone other than the Legal Services Coordinator or the Executive Director.
 2. Despite any of the definitions or parameters stated in these guidelines, funding
for Legal Services is discretionary on the part of the Legal Services Coordinator. These guidelines define criteria and the range of disputes that may be considered in a funding decision, but do not constitute an agreement to fund any case. The LSP Administrator shall have the authority to approve funding for legal services after careful regard for the following factors:
a.   the merits of the dispute concerning which legal services have been requested;

b. the importance of the issues involved in the dispute to the welfare of WVEA/NEA or its locals;

c. the importance of the dispute to the teaching profession, public education employment, or public education;    
d.   the time limits applicable to the dispute; and
e.   the WVEA budget, and the resources necessary to fund the legal services.

3. The Legal Services Coordinator shall not be required, as a prerequisite for the
exercise of the judgment and the discretion called for in the foregoing paragraph, to be completely satisfied concerning which legal services have been requested. It is contemplated that this decision will rely largely upon information furnished by the applicant, and appropriate WVEA staff, and is subject to refinement upon further development of the facts.

4. The Legal Services Coordinator shall also have the authority to make a
determination of the limits of the commitment to pay for legal services. For example, in an appropriate case, the Legal Services Coordinator may authorize only the employment of a lawyer to conduct a preliminary investigation and prepare a report; to represent a litigant only at a specified hearing or administrative proceeding; or to perform other such specifically limited services. In most cases, the Legal Services Coordinator, or designee, shall be required to state explicitly to the lawyer and the applicant, in writing, that nature and extent of the commitment and, after reasonable notice, the termination of that commitment.

“Reasonable notice” means notice adequate to allow the affected lawyer and  
applicant an opportunity either to renegotiate their financial arrangements, or for  
the lawyer to withdraw as counsel.

5. The WVEA may withdraw or curtail funding in any proceeding and seek
withdrawal from a case, or deny initial funding when:

a. The member/affiliate does not fully cooperate with WVEA or freely assist when requested by any "participating attorney" hired by the Plan. Lack of "full cooperation" includes, but is not limited to, demanding that counsel unreasonably retract or break an agreement with the opposing party, or becoming threatening or hostile with counsel.

b. WVEA determines that the facts of the matter in question, as alleged by the member/affiliate, are not true.

c. The member/affiliate rejects a settlement proposal or other recommended disposition of the matter as advised by WVEA or the participating attorney(ies).     
d. The member/affiliate retains an attorney without the knowledge and consent of WVEA.

e. Except in the case of a contested suspension or discharge as mentioned in the LSP at page 1, the member/affiliate fails to maintain membership in the WVEA/NEA and local association while WVEA-supported legal action is pending.

f. Pursuit of the case serves no sound purpose which the Association can justify, is not cost effective or involves support of a position contrary to the policies of the WVEA or NEA.

g. Lack of adequate financial resources in the LSP to meet the fiscal obligations of the fund.

6. The Legal Services Coordinator shall have the authority to condition the
expenditure of funds for legal services upon the agreement of the applicant to accept the LSP Administrator’s recommendation of a lawyer or lawyers to handle the case. The recommendation shall be based on the LSP Administrator’s opinion of the competence of the lawyer to perform the authorized legal service.

7. Decision of Support or Nonsupport -- An applicant shall receive a written
decision regarding a request within fifteen (15) days after submission of a properly completed application. Decisions of support or nonsupport of legal services will be made by the ULSP Administrator. The decision of the LSP Administrator is appealable to the Executive Director.

8. Participating Attorneys -- Participating attorneys shall agree, in writing, to
consult with the WVEA staff counsel prior to initiating any action on behalf of the member/client. Participating attorneys shall submit all bills to the WVEA General Counsel. Attorney’s fees in excess of the rate agreed upon by the WVEA and the participating attorney shall not be paid. Participating attorneys shall promptly send copies of all legal documents and judicial decisions in cases financed under this plan to the WVEA General Counsel.

  9.  In cases that are contemplated to be pursued, or are pursued in the court system of West Virginia, or in the federal court system, WVEA may require a member or local association to sign a representation agreement that allows WVEA to be reimbursed for its expenses and attorney’s fees in some instances.

  10.  If a matter covered by the terms of this Plan cannot be resolved informally, the applicant shall have a right to a written evaluation of the legal merit of the case by the WVEA General Counsel.

 11.  Assignment of Plan Attorney
 a. If an individual or affiliate is dissatisfied with the plan attorney assigned by  
the WVEA, the individual or affiliate may petition in writing to the WVEA General Counsel for the assignment of a different plan attorney. The petition shall state the reasons for the reassignment, and the basis for such reasons.
b. If, based upon the reasons and grounds stated in the petition and the
statements of the petition, WVEA General Counsel determines that representation by the plan attorney assigned under the plan would be unethical, improper or inadequate under the circumstances of the matter involved, he/she shall direct the assignment of a new plan attorney to the individual or affiliate.
 c. If, however, he/she finds that the representation by the plan attorney would
not be unethical, improper or inadequate under the circumstances involved, the member or affiliate shall be notified in writing. Upon receipt of such note the member or affiliate may elect to decline representation by the plan attorney.  If the individual or affiliate declines representation by the previously appointed plan attorney, the individual or affiliate is free to pursue the anticipated litigation with counsel of the individual’s or affiliate’s choice at his/her or its own expense without any right of financial support or reimbursement from the WVEA/NEA Legal Services Plan.

 12.  The Legal Division staff shall be responsible for:
 a. reviewing and evaluating all claims for assistance under this plan and   
recommending appropriate action to the Executive Director, the Director of Field Services, and the Executive Committee;
 b. reviewing and recommending payment of all bills for services rendered
submitted by participating attorneys;

c. supervising the employment of participating attorneys;

d. consulting with participating attorneys regarding WVEA-financed matters and reporting to the Executive Director, the Assistant Executive Director, the Director of Field Services, and the Executive Committee.
 13.  The Field Services Division staff shall be responsible for:

a. initial contact with any member or group of members seeking assistance
  under this plan, which shall include an explanation of the Plan coverage;

b. when appropriate, attempting to resolve the matter complained of
   informally;

c.    initial evaluation of any complaint, recommending appropriate action

d. acting as liaison between the General Counsel, participating attorney and/or insurer, and the member or members.

14.  The Legal Services Division staff shall be responsible for reporting claims for
reimbursement under the ULSP-DuShane Fund Program to NEA and shall act as
liaison with the Educators Employment Liability carrier.


THE WVEA WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYMENT OF ANY ATTORNEY FEES INCURRED WITHOUT PRIOR WVEA APPROVAL.

 

C.  Appeal Procedure
 1.    Initial Steps
    If an affiliate or member believes that the WVEA employee, through its agent, has not complied with the policy provisions of this plan, or that the decision made by a WVEA employee or agent was arbitrary, or capricious, the affiliate or member may appeal the decision as follows:

   a.   The appeal shall be communicated in writing to the WVEA Executive Director within fifteen (15) days of receipt of the decision that is the basis thereof. 
   b.   The Executive Director will promptly consider the appeal and render a written decision within twenty (20) days of receiving the written appeal. 

   c.    In the event the affiliate or member finds the decision of the Executive Director to be unacceptable, the member may notify the Executive Committee of its intent to appeal said decision within ten (10) days of receipt thereof.
 i. The notice of appeal shall be made on the prescribed form which shall be
 forwarded to the member with the decision of the Executive Director if the
    Executive Director does not grant the appeal. A copy of this appeal
     procedure shall be sent to the appellant with the “intent to appeal” form.

ii. The affiliate or member shall select between the written or hearing appeal
     by marking the appropriate space on the “intent to appeal” form.

iii.  The affiliate or member may file a written appeal with the Executive
      Committee specifically stating: 1) their cause for appeal, 2) facts and   
      authorities supporting their position, 3) any additional documents they wish
      the Committee to consider, and 4) a statement of the relief sought.
 iv.  In lieu of a written appeal, the affiliate or member may request a hearing       
      before the Executive Committee, to appeal personally and present evidence
      in support of the appeal.

 2.    Written Appeal
  a.   If the affiliate or member elects to file a written appeal, it shall be filed with the president of the Executive Committee within twenty (20) days of mailing the notice of appeal. The president will provide copies to the full Committee and the Executive Director. The Executive Director or his/her designee shall have ten (10) days from receipt of the written appeal to file a response, a copy of which shall be mailed to the appellant as well as all members of the Committee. The appellant shall have five (5) days from receipt of the Executive Director’s response to respond thereto.

  b. Within thirty (30) days of receipt of all documents in the written appeal, the Executive Committee shall meet and decide the appeal by majority vote of those members present at the meeting. The decision of the Committee shall be reduced to writing and promptly communicated to the appellant.

3. Hearing Appeal

  a.   If the affiliate or member elects to have a hearing instead of a written appeal, the Executive Committee shall schedule a hearing at its next regularly scheduled meeting or at a special meeting, but in no case more than ninety (90) days from receipt of the notice of appeal.
 b.   All hearings shall conform to the WVEA/Executive Committee Hearing
      Guidelines.

  c.   The Executive Committee shall render a written decision by majority vote of those members present at the hearing. The decision of the Committee shall be reduced to writing and communicated to the member within thirty (30) days of the conclusion of the hearing. 

4.   NEA Procedural Appeal

a. The affiliate or member may appeal an adverse decision by the WVEA Executive Committee to the NEA on the sole ground that the WVEA has failed to process the request in accordance with the WVEA Legal Services Plan.
 b. The Executive Director or his/her designee shall promptly send copies of all rejected applications for legal assistance to the NEA and, if requested by the NEA, supporting materials.

  c.  An appeal to the NEA must be received by the NEA within ninety (90) days of the date on which the decision of the WVEA to reject the applicant’s application for legal assistance has become final.
 5.   General Provisions

   a.   While the above appeal to the WVEA or the NEA is pending, the affiliate or member who has been denied legal assistance shall be responsible, with regard to legal services denied, for meeting all deadlines for filing actions and prosecuting all appeals, notices and/or other documents. The WVEA will not be responsible with regard to the legal services denied if said deadlines are not met or if the action is dismissed while this appeal process is pending. The affiliate or member shall be reimbursed for all reasonable and necessary legal expenses incurred to meet said deadlines and/or avoid dismissal of said action only if the decision to deny legal assistance is reversed.
  b.   “Days” shall mean calendar days. However, if the last day for completing an act herein should fall on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the party shall have until the next regular work day to complete the act.
 c.   All notices or appeals to be sent to the WVEA/Executive Committee, the WVEA President, the WVEA/Executive Committee and/or the Executive Director should be addressed to the attention of that person or committee and mailed to:
 

                     WEST VIRGINIA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION
                     1558 Quarrier Street • Charleston, WV 25311

 

Effective September 1, 2013, as modified January 13, 2014 and May 15, 2014

 

 
Plan, LSP Plan, effective 9-1-13, as modified January 13, 2014 and May 15, 2014
4/22/14--Plan, LSP Plan, effective 9-1-13, as modified January 13, 2014 and May 15, 2014