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2021 Legislative Wrap-up

It has been an especially difficult Legislative Session, but we have finally made it to the end. With a supermajority in both houses, we knew it was going to be difficult to pass positive legislation and even harder to stop the bad stuff. Thank you to those of you who worked as member advocates and reached out to your legislators when asked. It may not seem like it, but you helped more than you know. We couldn’t do this without you.

Several education-related bills passed this session and have already been signed by Governor Justice. They will go into effect on the date listed.

  • SB 11 Anti-Strike: Declares any work stoppage or strike by public employees to be unlawful. Accrued time may not be used to cancel days lost to a work stoppage/strike. A work stoppage/strike is determined to be grounds for termination. If an employee remains employed by the county board, the board must withhold the prorated salary or hourly pay for each day of participation. The bill was allowed to become law without the governor’s signature on March 17 and will go into effect on June 2.
  • SB 14 Alternative Certification: Provides a third option for alternative certification. This option allows a person to:
    • Obtain a bachelor’s degree
    • Pass a criminal background test
    • Complete pedagogical training
    • Pass the Praxis
      The bill was signed into law on March 10 and will go into effect on May 27.
  • SB 89 Private Pre-K: Allows private schools that are already accredited to register pre-k students. Currently they are unable to enroll pre-k students without a childcare license. Head-start programs and out-of-school summer programs would also be exempt. The bill was vetoed by the governor on March 26, however, the Senate and House both came back and passed the bill again so the bill becomes law with the governor’s veto overridden by the legislature.
  • SB 365 Driver’s Ed: Allows the written part of the driver’s license exam to be taken in school driver education courses. The bill was signed by the governor on April 7 and is effective June 24.
  • SB 431 Sharing Info with DMV: Allows a county board of education to share information pertaining to school attendance electronically with the Division of Motor Vehicles so that each student does not have to acquire a paper form from the student attendance director for driver licensing purposes. Signed by the governor on April 7 and effective on June 24.
  • SB 435 Work Permits: Requires a county superintendent to authorize additional persons in the county to issue a work permit for students at that school. Signed by the governor on April 7 and effective on June 24.
  • HB 2001 Jumpstart Savings Account: Creates the Jumpstart Savings Account which acts like a Smart 529 Account that can be used for trades instead of college. The tax-free money can be used for tools and equipment needed for an apprenticeship, applying for a certification and more. Signed on March 19 and effective June 9.
  • HB 2009 Paycheck Deduction: Eliminates the right of union members to pay their dues through payroll deduction. It also prohibits employee sponsored insurance, cancer insurance, memorial funds or charitable and scholarship contributions to be paid for through payroll deduction. Signed on March 30 and effective June 17.
  • HB 2012 Charter Schools: Authorizes virtual charter schools-one for each county. Each county virtual charter school can take up to 10% of that county’s student population. Two statewide virtual schools are also allowed and they can take up to 5% of the state’s total student body population each. Ten brick and mortar charter schools are allowed until July 1, 2023. Every three years after that, an additional ten may be authorized. The bill was signed on March 11 and is effective June 1.
  • HB 2013 ESAs: Gives $4,600 to students who have been enrolled in public school for at least 45 days prior to withdrawing to pay for private school tuition and/or home school tutoring. There is a cap of 5% of the state’s student body population who can participate. However, if enrollment in the program is less than 5% by July 1, 2024 then the program will open to private and home school students in 2026. Signed on March 29 and effective June 15.

There are also several other bills that have passed both the House and the Senate in these last couple of weeks of the session and have yet to make it to the governor’s desk. Now that the session is over, the governor will have 15 days after receipt of the bill to either sign or veto the following bills:

  • SB 7 Political Activity: Does not allow a public employee to engage in political activity while on duty or while using a vehicle owned by the state. Political activity is defined as advocating for others to vote for or against a candidate or political party.
  • SB 307 Military In-State Tuition: Allows members of the National Guard or Reserve who are not residents of WV, but members of active units in the state to receive resident tuition rates at state colleges and universities. It also allows in-state tuition rates for members of the U.S. armed forces who are stationed in WV. 
  • SB 375 Open Enrollment: Limits the reason that an open enrollment application can be denied. The bill says an application may only be denied by a county board of education due to grade level capacity, if allowing the transfer would not be in the best interest of the nonresident student, or if the nonresident student failed to fill out or submit the application correctly.
  • SB 636 Required Courses: Requires all public, private, parochial and denominational schools to teach the institutions and structure of American government and politics. The bill also requires one credit course in personal finance be completed in place of an economics class in order to graduate.
  • SB 651 Online Financial Publishing: Allows county boards of education to publish their financial statements online instead of as a Class I-0 legal advertisement in the newspaper beginning in 2023. A public hearing must be held before a financial statement is published online for the first time. If a county chooses to publish their financial statements online, every check over $250 must be posted (this is not required for newspaper publishing).
  • SB 657 Open and Robust University Minds Act: Prohibits “free speech zones” on public college campuses outside of which expressive activities are prohibited. It allows any person to engage in expressive activities anywhere on campus at any time. The bill also says a public college may not deny a religious, political or ideological student organization any benefit or privilege available to any other student organization.
  • SB 680 Special Education Positions: Allows the state superintendent to determine what positions are defined as full-time special education teachers.
  • HB 2029 Teacher Prep Programs: Removes a potential naming conflict between the statutory teacher in residence program enacted in 2012 and a senior year resident teacher program approved by the State Board more recently. The new name for the teacher in residence program will be the ‘clinical teacher of record’ program. Both programs are clinical experience programs within teacher education at institutions of higher education and are under the direction of the State Board. 
  • HB 2145 Student Aide Titles: Adds four student aide titles to the class titles for school personnel. The county board of education can decide whether they want to add these titles. These titles are:
    • “Aide V (Special Education Assistant Teacher) – Temporary Authorization” means a person who does not possess minimum requirements for the permanent authorization requirements, but is enrolled in and pursuing requirements;
    • “Aide V (Special Education Assistant Teacher)” means a service person referred to in the “Aide I” classification who holds a high school diploma or a general educational development certificate and who has elected to complete three e-learning classes provided through the WVDE Department of Special Education.
    • “Aide VI (Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher – Temporary Authorization)” means a person who does not possess minimum requirements for the permanent authorization requirements, but is enrolled in and pursuing requirements;
    • “Aide VI (Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher)” means a person who works with a student or students who have identified behavior difficulties and meets standards and experiences to be determined by the state board. A person who has achieved the Aide III classification, and has a specialized training in behavioral supports for students. 
  • HB 2267 Bus Operator in Residence Program: The program is an incentive to get more bus operators. Those who participate can receive 60% of the base salary of a regularly employed bus driver with zero years of experience. Upon completion of the program, a person must work 6 months as a substitute bus driver in the county or pay the money back.
  • HB 2529 Non-Public Student Testing: Disallows higher education institutions to require a graduate of private, nonpublic or home schools to submit to alternative testing as a precondition for acceptance. This is as long as the student has an acceptable score on their ACT, SAT or other test recognized by the institution. The bill also says that a college cannot reject a student (who has a diploma or other appropriate credentials) because their secondary education is not accredited by the state board of education.
  • HB 2785 Kindergarten Removal: Changes the requirements for removing a child from kindergarten so that the parent is the only person making that decision, allows home school or Hope Scholarship (HB 2013) students to enroll in first grade without further placement testing, and requires out of state students to be placed in the grade from which they transferred.
  • HB 2791 Vocational School Classes:  Allows for home school and private school students to take classes at a county vocational school if space allows.
  • HB 2906 SBA Funding: Allows the SBA to use 10% of their annual construction and major improvements budget for projects at vocational schools throughout the state. The current limit is 3%.
  • HB 3266 Extracurricular Assignments: Requires teachers and service personnel with extracurricular assignments prior to retirement to resign from those positions. They can re-apply for extracurricular assignments if they wish to keep them after retirement. This would apply to those who retire on July 1, 2021 or after. 
  • HB 3293 Single-Sex Sports Participation: Sports designated for females cannot be open to anyone of the male sex. It would allow someone who is aggrieved to challenge an athelete’s sex to the county board of education. 

Week Eight

It was another grim week for public education as the payroll deduction bill was signed into law by Governor Justice. HB 2009 was signed on Tuesday and makes it is illegal for union members to pay dues through payroll deduction. Lawmakers believe this will keep us down and out, but they are wrong. We are currently working on an easy conversion system to get our members switched from payroll deduction so your voices can continue to be heard! Look for more information on the Easy Pay system very soon!

Crossover day was Wednesday in the Legislature. This means that was the last day for bills to be on third reading in their house of origin. From now on, the House should only be considering Senate bills and the Senate should only be considering House bills. This also means there were several bills passed in the Senate or the House this week.

  • HB 3300 Personal Income Tax Reduction: The bill would begin to reduce the personal income tax beginning on January 1, 2022. Tax collections would be reduced by $150 million each year. The tax commissioner would reduce the state’s personal income tax rates by whatever was needed to reach the $150 million deduction.  No new tax increases are created to make-up the funding difference. Instead, the Personal Income Tax Reduction Fund is created in the bill. Money from multiple already existing funding sources will be funneled into this account. A total of $61.9 million will be diverted from the General Revenue Fund into this new Tax Reduction Fund each year. These two major revenue losses will very likely lead future legislatures forced to make decisions on deep budget cuts and tax increases. This will mean less funding for our public school which are already sorely under-funded. It passed the House by a vote of 77-23 on Monday and was sent to the Senate.
  • SB 588 County Board Compliance: This bill would allow county board members to not be paid if the Board of School Finance finds that the action of that county board or county superintendent does not comply with state law or state board policy and that action adversely affects students. It passed the Senate by a vote of 21-12 on Monday and will now be sent to the House.
  • SB 711 Net Enrollment: This bill would set the minimum net enrollment at 1,200 student for funding purposes. This would begin July 1, 2022. The bill passed the S4enate by a vote of 34-0 on Wednesday and now goes to the House.
  • HB 2267 Bus Operator in Residence: This bill creates the Bus Operator in Residence Program. The program is an incentive to get more bus drivers. Those who participate can receive 60% of the base salary of a regularly employed bus driver with zero years of experience. Upon completion of the program, a person must work 6 months as a substitute bus driver in the county or pay the money back. An amendment was added to the bill that would allow retired bus drivers to be employed as a critical need substitute bus operator for an unlimited number of days without affecting their monthly retirement benefit. The bill passed the Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 33-0 and will now go back to the House for them to vote on whether to accept the changes made in the Senate.
  • SB 375 Open Enrollment: This bill would limit the reason that an open enrollment application can be denied. The bill says an application may only be denied by a county board of education due to grade level capacity, if allowing the transfer would not be in the best interest of the nonresident student, or if the nonresident student failed to fill out or submit the application correctly. The bill passed the House on Friday by a vote of 91-7 and will now go back to the Senate for them to vote on whether to accept changes made in the House.
  • SB 657 Open and Robust University Minds Act:  The bill would prohibit “free speech zones” on public college campuses outside of which expressive activities are prohibited. It allows any person to engage in expressive activities anywhere on campus at any time. The bill also says a public college may not deny a religious, political or ideological student organization any benefit or privilege available to any other student organization. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 34-0 on Tuesday and will now be sent to the House.
  • SB 307 Military In-State Tuition: This bill would allow members of the National Guard or Reserve who are not residents of WV, but members of active units in the state to receive resident tuition rates at state colleges and universities. It would also allow in-state tuition rates for members of the U.S. armed forces who currently reside in WV. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 34-0 on Tuesday and will now be sent to the House.
  • HB 3074 Organ Donation: This bill would require the State Department of Education to create a model curriculum regarding organ donation for students in grades nine through 12 which public and nonpublic schools may use to provide instruction. It also allows public and private colleges to provide information on organ donation to their students. The bill passed the House by a vote of 94-6 on Wednesday and will now go to the Senate.

There were still a few bills left on the floor of both houses at the end of this week, that will likely pass next week. HB 2529 was on second reading in the Senate on Friday. This bill says that higher education institutions cannot require a graduate private, nonpublic or home school to submit to alternative testing as a precondition for acceptance. This is as long as the student has an acceptable score on their ACT, SAT or other test recognized by the institution. The bill also says that a college cannot reject a student (who has a diploma or other appropriate credentials) because their secondary education is not accredited by the state board of education. The bill will be on third reading on Monday.

HB 2785 was in the Senate on second reading on Friday as well. This bill does several things, including: changes the requirements for removing a child from kindergarten so that the parent is the only person making that decision, allows home school or Hope Scholar Scholarship (HB 2013) students enroll in first grade without further placement testing, and requires out of state students be placed in the grade from which they transferred. It will be on third reading Monday.

Also on second reading in the Senate Friday was HB 2791. This bill would allow for home school and private school students to take classes at a county vocational school if space allows. It too will be on third reading on Monday.

Finally, HB 2906 would allow the SBA to use 10% of their annual construction and major improvements budget for projects at multi-county vocational schools throughout the state. The current limit is 3%. It was also on second reading in the Senate on Friday and will be on third reading Monday.

The House and Senate Education Committees were busy this week moving multiple bills:

  • SB 610 was in the House Education Committee on Monday. This bill would provide tuition and fee waivers to state colleges and universities for volunteers who have completed service in West Virginia in AmeriCorps Programs. The committee introduced a strike and insert version of the bill which says that one semester of waivers will be provided for every 600 hours completed in AmeriCorps service, with a total of eight semesters (4800 hours) allowed. This new version of the bill was passed out of the committee and was sent to the floor.
  • On Thursday, the House committee discussed SB 307.  This bill would allow members of the National Guard or Reserve who are not residents of WV, but members of active units in the state to receive resident tuition rates at state colleges and universities. It would also allow in-state tuition rates for members of the U.S. armed forces who currently reside in WV. The bill was sent to the floor.
  • SB 585 would allow the State Board of Education to develop a course in family and consumer sciences that may implemented in secondary schools. The bill was sent to the floor.
  • Also on the agenda Thursday was SB 636. This bill would require all public, private, parochial and denominational schools to teach the institutions and structure of American government and politics.
  • SB 651 would allow county boards of education to publish their financial statements online instead of as a Class I-0 legal advertisement in the newspaper beginning in 2023. A public hearing must be held before a financial statement is published online for the first time. If a county chooses to publish their financial statements online, every check over $250 must be posted (this is not required for newspaper publishing). The bill was sent to the floor.
  • Also in the  House committee Thursday, SB 680 would allow the state superintendent to determine what positions are defined as full-time special education teachers. The bill was sent to the floor.
  • SB 710 would require a county board to write an impact statement before making a final decision on any decision to close or consolidate a school. The statement must include the impact on: transportation time of students, anticipated cost or savings to the county, school enrollment, anticipated increase or decrease in school personnel and the community. An amendment was added to say that if a closing school has more than 13 students in each grade, a county must hold a referendum vote on the issue. The amended version of the bill was sent to the floor.
  • The House committee also discussed a resolution on Thursday. HCR 24 urges the US Congress to provide federal tax benefits to participants in the Jumpstart Savings Account that are already provided to those who participate in college savings programs. You may remember the Jumpstart Savings Account was created with HB 2001. The account acts like a Smart 529 Account that can be used for trades instead of college. The resolution was sent to the floor.
  • The Senate Education Committee discussed HB 3293 on Thursday. The bill would require that the sex that is listed on a person’s birth certificate used for school admission be what is used for single-sex sports. A strike and insert version of the bill was introduced that would allow someone who is aggrieved to challenge a female’s sex to the county board of education. This means if a girl gets second place in a track event, she could allege that the winner was transgender and in violation of this bill. That person would then have to prove their sex with a doctor’s exam.

There were a few other committee meetings this week. SB 566 was in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. This is the bill that would require that the WV Public Employees Grievance Board uphold any interpretations of school law or state board rules made by the State Superintendent. A bill like this could be very detrimental to the grievance process. Luckily, the majority of committee members voted against the bill and it was rejected.

HJR 1 showed back up this week in the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. This is the resolution that would put a proposed amendment to the WV Constitution on the ballot for the 2022 general election. The amendment would state that any rules put into effect by the State Board of Education must be submitted to the Legislature for its review and approval/rejection. The resolution passed the committee and was sent to the floor.

 


Week Seven

As the end of this Legislative Session quickly approaches (April 10), we still have time to impact bills the target public education. That means a very busy couple of weeks lie ahead of us and this week was no different.

First, the payroll deduction bill landed on the governor’s desk on Wednesday. He has five days to either sign or veto it. If he does nothing, the bill automatically becomes law. HB 2009 a direct attack on public educators and we must fight back. Call Governor Justice and ask him to VETO HB 2009!

HB 2009 eliminates the right of WVEA members to pay their dues through payroll deduction. It also prohibits employee sponsored insurance, cancer insurance, memorial funds or charitable and scholarship contributions to be paid for through payroll deduction.

The ESA bill is also sitting on the governor’s desk as of Monday. Call Governor Justice and ask him to VETO HB 2013!

HB 2013 will ultimately take $100 million from public schools in favor of private and home schools. This bill gives $4,600 to students who have been enrolled in public school for at least 45 days for private school tuition and home school tutoring.

Thousands of bills have been introduced in the House and Senate this year. A few education-related bills we are keeping up with passed in one of the houses this week:

  • HB 3293 Single-Sex Sports: The bill would require that the sex that is listed on a person’s birth certificate used for school admission be what is used for single-sex sports. It passed the House by a vote of 78-20 on Thursday and will now be sent to the Senate.
  • SB 636 Civics Courses: This bill would require all public, private, parochial and denominational schools to teach the institutions and structure of American government and politics. It passed the Senate by a vote 33-0 on Monday and will now go to the House.
  • SB 36 WVSSAC Audit: This bill would require the legislative auditor to perform a performance audit of WVSSAC. It would also authorize the inspection of records and examination of personnel. It passed the Senate by a vote of 22-11 on Monday and will now go to the House.
  • HB 2029 Teacher Prep Programs: The purpose of this bill is to remove a potential naming conflict between the statutory teacher in residence program enacted in 2012 and a senior year resident teacher program approved by the State Board more recently. Both programs are clinical experience programs within teacher education at institutions of higher education and are under the direction of the State Board. It passed the House by a vote of 98-0 on Wednesday and will now be sent to the Senate.
  • SB 610 AmeriCorps Tuition Waivers: This bill would provide tuition and fee waivers to state colleges and universities for volunteers who have completed service in West Virginia in AmeriCorps Programs. It passed the Senate by a vote of 32-1 on Thursday and will now be sent to the House.
  • SB 651 Financial Statements: This bill would allow county boards of education to publish their financial statements online instead of as a Class I-0 legal advertisement in the newspaper beginning in 2023. A public hearing must be held before a financial statement is published online for the first time. If a county chooses to publish their financial statements online, every check over $250 must be posted (this is not required for newspaper publishing). It passed the Senate by a vote of 21-12 on Thursday and will now go to the House.
  • SB 356 Driver’s Exam: This bill would allow the written part of the driver’s license exam to be taken in school driver education courses. It passed the House by a vote of 95-0 on Friday and will now be sent to the governor.
  • SB 431 Sharing Info with DMV: This bill would allow a county board of education to share information pertaining to school attendance electronically with the Division of Motor Vehicles so that each student does not have to acquire a paper form from the student attendance director for driver licensing purposes. It passed the House by a vote of 94-1 on Friday and will now be sent to the governor.
  • SB 435 Work Permits: This bill would require a county superintendent to authorize at least one principal or administrator at each nonpublic school in the county to issue a work permit for students at that school. It passed by a vote of 75-21 on Friday and will now be sent to the governor.
  • HB 2145 Student Aide Titles: This bill would add four student aide titles to the class titles for school personnel. The county board of education can decide whether they want to add these titles. The bill passed the House by a vote of 93-2 on Friday and will now be sent to the Senate. The new titles would be:
  • Aide V (Special Education Assistant Teacher) – Temporary Authorization means a person who does not possess minimum requirements for the permanent authorization requirements, but is enrolled in and pursuing requirements;
  • “Aide V (Special Education Assistant Teacher)” means a service person referred to in the “Aide I” classification who holds a high school diploma or a general educational development certificate and who has elected to complete three e-learning classes provided through the WVDE Department of Special Education.
  • “Aide VI (Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher – Temporary Authorization)” means a person who does not possess minimum requirements for the permanent authorization requirements, but is enrolled in and pursuing requirements;
  • “Aide VI (Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher)” means a person who works with a student or students who have identified behavior difficulties and meets standards and experiences to be determined by the state board. A person who has achieved the Aide III classification, and has a specialized training in behavioral supports for students. 
  • HB 3266 Extracurricular Assignments: This bill would require teachers and service personnel with extracurricular assignments prior to retirement to re-apply for extracurricular assignments if they wish to keep them after retirement. This would apply to those who retire on July 1, 2021 or after. It passed the House by a vote of 92-4 on Friday and will now be sent to the Senate.

There were also multiple other bills moving on the floor of both houses this week.

The personal income tax reduction plan was on third reading on Friday, but was laid over one day with the right to amend. This means we will see amendments and a vote on the bill on Monday. HB 3300 would begin to reduce the personal income tax beginning on January 1, 2022. Tax collections would be reduced by $150 million each year. The tax commissioner would reduce the state’s personal income tax rates by whatever was needed to reach the $150 million deduction.  No new tax increases are created to make-up the funding difference. Instead, the Personal Income Tax Reduction Fund is created in the bill. Money from multiple already existing funding sources will be funneled into this account. A total of $61.9 million will be diverted from the General Revenue Fund into this new Tax Reduction Fund each year. These two major revenue losses will very likely lead future legislatures forced to make decisions on deep budget cuts and tax increases. This will mean less funding for our public school which are already sorely under-funded.  

SB 601 would require that grievance forms be notarized and signed by the employee or a representative. It would also allow any party, at any time, to file a motion to dismiss the grievance (only at level 3) asserting that the board lacks jurisdiction. The bill would also allow the employee to request attorneys fees and costs when they win. The bill will be on third reading Saturday.

On Friday, SB 585 was on second reading in the Senate. This bill would allow the State Board of Education to develop a course in family and consumer sciences that may implemented in secondary schools. It will be on third reading on Saturday.

SB 588 was also on second reading Friday. It would allow county board members to not be paid if the Board of School Finance finds that the action of that county board or county superintendent does not comply with state law or state board policy and that action adversely affects students. It will be on third reading Saturday.

SB 680 would allow the state superintendent to determine what positions are defined as full-time special education teachers. It was also on second reading in the Senate on Friday and will be on third reading on Saturday.

Also on second reading Friday, SB 710 would require a county board to write an impact statement before making a final decision on any decision to close or consolidate a school. The statement must include the impact on: transportation time of students, anticipated cost or savings to the county, school enrollment, anticipated increase or decrease in school personnel and the community.

Also on second reading was HB 3306. This bill would allow ten instructional days to be satisfied by virtual learning. This could mean that “snow days” would be virtual learning days instead. It will be on third reading Monday.

Both the House and Senate Education Committees met multiple times this week and passed several bills. Those include:

  • HB 3217 would create the Student Rescue Act. It would require county boards of education to offer a summer program if there is a natural disaster, pandemic or other event lasting longer than 21 days that disrupts the regular school year. The bill passed out of the House Education Committee on Tuesday and was sent to the Finance Committee.
  • HB 2852 was in the Senate Education Committee on Thursday. This bill deals with the State Department of Education’s requirement to distribute each county’s share of funds for increased enrollment. This bill removes the requirement that the first half of funds be distributed by September 1. Instead, all funds would be distributed on or before December 31. Counties may request up to 60% of their share based on projected increase numbers before December 31. The bill was amended to say that when a partial distribution is given to a county, the Joint Committee on Finance and LOCEA must be notified. The amended bill passed out of the committee and was sent to the floor.
  • HB 2267 was in the Senate Education Committee on Thursday. The bill creates the Bus Operator in Residence Program. The program is an incentive to get more bus drivers. Those who participate can receive 60% of the base salary of a regularly employed bus driver with zero years of experience. Upon completion of the program, a person must work 6 months as a substitute bus driver in the county or pay the money back. The bill passed out of the committee and was sent to the floor.
  • HB 3285 would allow all students in the state to participate in the health sciences and technology academy affiliated programs. The bill passed out of the House Education Committee on Monday and was sent to the Finance Committee.  
  • HB 3157 would create the Open and Robust University Minds Act. The bill would prohibit “free speech zones” on public college campuses outside of which expressive activities are prohibited. It allows any person to engage in expressive activities anywhere on campus at any time. The bill also says a public college may not deny a religious, political or ideological student organization any benefit or privilege available to any other student organization. It passed out of the House Education Committee on Tuesday and was sent to the Judiciary Committee.
  • SB 307 was in the Senate Education Committee on Thursday. This bill would allow members of the National Guard or Reserve who are not residents of WV, but members of active units in the state to receive resident tuition rates at state colleges and universities. It would also allow in-state tuition rates for members of the U.S. armed forces who currently reside in WV. The bill passed out of the committee. It has a second reference to the Finance Committee, but the chair will ask the second reference be waived.
  • HB 3271 was in the House Education Committee on Thursday. This bill would require the WVSSAC to create rules relating to the right to broadcast public high school extracurricular events by radio and TV stations that are licensed by the FCC. It would also require the State Board to develop rules surrounding broadcast rights county boards must follow for non-tournament events. The bill passed out of committee and was sent to the floor.
  • HB 3074 was in the House Education Committee on Thursday. This bill would require the State Department of Education to create a model curriculum regarding organ donation for students in grades nine through 12 which public and nonpublic schools may use to provide instruction. It also allows public and private colleges to provide information on organ donation to their students. The bill passed out of committee and was sent to the floor.

Week Six

West Virginia lawmakers earned a F grade for providing resources and opportunities public school students and educators need to succeed this week. Several bills passed that rob public schools of funding and educators of their rights.

ACT NOW! Contact Governor Jim Justice and tell him to VETO HB 2013 and HB 2009.  
Here are the details:

Gutting Public School Funding? The ESA bill, HB 2013, will ultimately take $100 million from public schools in favor of private and home schools. It passed in the Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 20-13. This bill gives $4,600 to students who have been enrolled in public school for at least 45 days for private school tuition and home school tutoring. There is a cap of 5% of the state’s student body population who can participate. However, if enrollment in the program is less than 5% by July 1, 2024 then the program will open to private and home school students in 2026. The price tag: $100 million straight out of the public school budgets. The bill is now headed to the governor’s desk, so start calling Governor Justice now and ask him to VETO HB 2013!

By the way - the House Education Committee passed a $3,000 tax credit for home and private school parents – they'd receive that in addition to HB 2013 at a cost to public school coffers of additional $67.5 million. Question: Lawmakers are giving a LOT of tax breaks and financial support to private and home schools. What are they giving public school parents?

Lawmakers intrude into our paychecks? The House today passed by a vote of 55-43 HB 2009 which makes it illegal to pay union dues through payroll deduction. “This is a blatant payback measure aimed at educators who stood together and advocated for West Virginia public schools by lawmakers who don’t understand or don’t care what’s happening in our public schools," said WVEA President Dale Lee. "Lawmakers are intruding into our paychecks and dictating how we spend our money. Understand this means nothing can come out of our paychecks, including union dues, employee sponsored insurance, cancer insurance, memorial funds or charitable and scholarship contributions. It’s outrageous and disrespectful to retaliate against dedicated and caring educators who have found creative ways to reach and teach our students during this COVID-19 pandemic." 

If West Virginia legislators put half as much energy into providing the resources and opportunities our students and educators need to succeed, everyone would be flocking to our state. As it is, these lawmakers are gutting public school funding and robbing educators of their rights," he added. "It’s shameful. Simply shameful.”

HB 2009 passed in the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 20-13. It was sent back to the House for them to concur with Senate version of the bill. They passed the Senate version by a vote of 55-43 on Friday. Call Governor Justice now and tell him to VETO HB 2009!

The anti-strike bill was allowed to become law without the governor’s signature on Wednesday. Once a bill passes both houses and is sent to the governor, he has five days from the day he receives it to sign it or veto it. If he does neither, the bill automatically becomes law. That happened with SB 11. This is the bill punishes those who advocate for public schools by confirming any work stoppage or strike by public employees to be unlawful and dictating work stoppage/strike is determined to be grounds for termination.  SB 11 states accrued time may not be used to cancel days lost to a work stoppage/strike. The bill continues that if an employee remains employed by the county board, the board must withhold the prorated salary or hourly pay for each day of participation in a work stoppage/strike. The bill is effective ninety days from passage, June 2, 2021.

Other bills moving on the floor this week:

  • SB 431 DMV Attendance Notification: This bill would allow a county board of education to share information pertaining to school attendance electronically with the Division of Motor Vehicles so that each student does not have to acquire a paper form from the student attendance director for driver licensing purposes. It passed the Senate by a vote of 31-2 on Wednesday and will now go to the House.
  • SB 566 Superintendent Interpretations:  This bill would require that the WV Public Employees Grievance Board uphold any interpretations of school law or state board rules made by the State Superintendent. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 21-12 on Thursday and will now be sent to the House.
  • SB 36 WVSSAC Audit: This bill would require the legislative auditor to perform a performance audit of WVSSAC. It would also authorize the inspection of records and examination of personnel. The bill will be on third reading on Monday.
  • SB 636 Civics Courses: This bill would require all public, private, parochial and denominational schools to teach the institutions and structure of American government and politics. The bill will be on third reading on Monday.

There were several bills in committees this week.

On Tuesday, the House Education Committee discussed HB 2364 which would allow school districts to designate teachers or administrators as School Protection Officers. As School Protection Officers (SPO), the teachers/admins would be able to carry a gun or self-defense spray on school property. Anyone requesting to become a school protection officer and seeking to carry a gun, must provide proof of a concealed carry permit. They must also complete a training program run by the WV Department of Homeland Security as well as annually complete a training with the local sheriff. A public hearing must be held before implementing the program in a county/school.

An amendment was adopted that says the Department of Homeland Security training must be 32 hours with at 16 hours in person. The sheriff training must be 8 hours with additional in-field training. The amendment also put a limit on the number of SPOs allowed per school: 2 in a primary school and 3 in a secondary school. The amended bill passed out of committee and was sent to the House Judiciary Committee.

House Education also discussed an originating bill on Tuesday dealing with transgender students playing sports (HB 3293). The bill would require that the sex that is listed on a person’s birth certificate used for school admission be what is used for single-sex sports. This would not change current rules around allowing both sexes to play in sports where only one option is available, such as girls playing football. The bill was sent to the judiciary committee where it passed by a vote of 16-5 on Friday. It will now be sent to the floor. 

The House Education Committee met again on Thursday with a full agenda. First up was HB 2778 which would provide a tax credit for each child in nonpublic schools between the ages of 5 and 20 in grades K-12. The $3,000 credit can be used for tuition, transportation, curriculum, text books, lab supplies, educational technology and tutoring. If each nonpublic school student in the state participated in the program, the bill would cost $67.5 million. The bill passed out of the committee and was sent to the House Finance Committee.

HB 2806 would allow any student in public or nonpublic school to use the 2021-2022 school year to retake or supplement courses the student took this year. This is in response to the COVID pandemic. The student will also be allowed to participate in an extra year of sports under WVSSAC. The bill passed out of the committee and was sent to the House Finance Committee.

The committee also discussed HB 3009 which would do the same thing as SB 651. It would allow county boards to publish their financial statements online instead of as a Class I-0 legal advertisement. The bill passed out of the committee and was sent to the House floor.

HB 3177 is simply a clean-up bill that removes language from education law that no longer has meaning due to changes in other statutes. The bill passed out of the committee and was sent to the House floor.

HB 2336 would establish the Katherine Johnson Academy. The academy will facilitate the creation of four magnet schools on college campuses across the state in collaboration with the State Board of Education, Higher Education Policy Commission and the colleges campuses. The magnet schools would either be commuter based or residential. Students enrolled in a commuter magnet school will attend classes at both their high school and take college credit classes from the host college. Residential schools will pull students from across the state. The students will live on campus and take both their high school and college credits through the host institution.  Students must be eligible for PROMISE and have completed a list of core course requirements. The bill also creates the Katherine Johnson Scholarship Fund to help participating students. The bill passed out of the committee and was sent to the House Finance Committee.

The committee also discussed an originating bill. This bill changes the name of the teacher in residence program to the Clinical Teacher of Record Program. The attorney explained that this bill was needed because this program conflicted with another program in the state. We will have more details on the bill once it is assigned a number and we are able to read it. The bill passed out of the committee and was sent to the floor.

The Senate Education Committee took up three bills Thursday afternoon. First, SB 610 would provide tuition and fee waivers to state colleges and universities for volunteers who have completed service in West Virginia in AmeriCorps Programs. The bill passed out of the committee and was sent to the Senate Finance Committee.

Also in the committee, SB 651 would allow county boards of education to publish their financial statements online instead of as a Class I-0 legal advertisement. The bill passed out of the committee and was sent to the Senate floor.

Finally, SB 657 would create the Open and Robust University Minds Act. The bill would prohibit “free speech zones” on public college campuses outside of which expressive activities are prohibited. It allows any person to engage in expressive activities anywhere on campus at any time. The bill also says a public college may not deny a religious, political or ideological student organization any benefit or privilege available to any other student organization. The bill passed out of the committee and was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A grievance-related bill was taken up in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday. SB 601 would require that grievance forms be notarized and signed by the employee or a representative. It would also allow any party, at any time, to file a motion to dismiss asserting that the board lacks jurisdiction. The bill would also allow the prevailing party to request attorneys fees and costs. The bill passed out of the committee and was sent to the floor.


Week Five

It was another hard week for public education and educators in the Legislature. Two of the bills we have been fighting the hardest were moving in the Senate this week.

The ESA bill, HB 2013, was in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday and the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. This bill would give $4,600 to students who have been enrolled in public school for at least 45 days. The money can be used for things like private school tuition and tutoring. The program is open to public school students with a cap of 5% of the state’s student body population. However, if enrollment in the program is less than 5% by July 1, 2024 then the program will open to private and home school students in 2026. The bill will soon be on the Senate floor. Start calling your senators now and ask them to vote NO on this bill!

The payroll deduction bill was in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and then began moving on the Senate floor on Friday. HB 2009 is a bill to silence your voice by eliminating paycheck deductions. Eliminating payroll deduction is designed to dictate how we spend our paycheck and to weaken our public labor unions. As WVEA members and as citizens, we have the freedom and the right to spend our paychecks as we see fit. A strike and insert version of the bill was introduced in committee which makes it even more clear that those in the majority party are out for revenge against those of us that fight for the rights of educators and our students. The bill specifically says that “union or labor organization dues” cannot be deducted from paychecks of public employees. The bill will be on second reading in the Senate on Monday. Start calling your senators now and ask them to vote NO on this bill!

The alternative certification bill was signed by the governor on Wednesday. This bill would provide a third option for alternative certification. This option would require a person to:

  • Obtain a bachelor’s degree
  • Pass a criminal background test
  • Complete pedagogical training or a pedagogical course in substantive alignment with nationally recognized pedagogical standards
  • Pass the same subject matter and competency test required by the state board for traditional program applicants for licensure (Praxis)

The bill is effective ninety days from passage which will be May 27.

There were also a number of bills that passed this week:

  • SB 375 Open Enrollment: Passed the Senate 33-0. This bill would limit the reason that an open enrollment application can be denied. The bill says an application may only be denied by a county board of education due to grade level capacity, if allowing the transfer would not be in the best interest of the nonresident student, or if the nonresident student failed to fill out or submit the application correctly.
  • SB 435 Work Permit: Passed the Senate 33-0. This bill would require a county superintendent to authorize at least one principal or administrator at each nonpublic school in the county to issue a work permit for students at that school.
  • HB 2001 Jumpstart Savings Account: Passed the Senate 33-0. This bill creates the Jumpstart Savings Account which acts like a Smart 529 Account that can be used for trades instead of college. The tax-free money can be used for tools and equipment needed for an apprenticeship, applying for a certification and more.
  • HB 2906 SBA Funding: Passed the House 83-16. This bill originated in the House Education Committee on Tuesday and deals with School Building Authority Funding. The bill would allow the SBA to use 10% of their annual construction and major improvements budget for projects at multi-county vocational schools throughout the state. The current limit is 3%.
  • HB 2852 Increased Enrollment Funding: Passed the House 99-0. This bill deals with the State Department of Education’s requirement to distribute each county’s share of funds for increased enrollment. This bill removes the requirement that the first half of funds be distributed by September 1. Instead, all funds would be distributed on or before December 31. Counties may request up to 60% of their share based on projected increase numbers before December 31. 
  • SB 89 Private Pre-K: Passed the House 96-0. This bill allows private schools that are already accredited to register pre-k students. Currently they are unable to enroll pre-k students without a childcare license. After amendments in the House Education Committee, head-start programs and out of school summer programs would also be exempt.

HB 2702 was first taken up in the House Education Committee on Tuesday and then began moving on the floor on Thursday. This bill would require high school students to apply for the FAFSA in order to receive their diploma. Students or their parents may file a waiver with the high school stating they understand what the FAFSA is and that they have chosen not to file for it. If a student is unable to file for the FAFSA due to extenuating circumstances, they may still receive their diploma if the principal can attest that the school made every effort to assist them. The bill was on second reading on Friday and will be on third reading/passage stage on Monday.

HB 2785 was also first taken up in House Education on Tuesday and began moving on the House floor on Thursday. This bill does several things, including: changes the requirements for removing a child from kindergarten so that the parent is the only person making that decision, allows home school or Hope Scholar Scholarship (HB 2013) students enroll in first grade without further placement testing, and requires out of state students be placed in the grade from which they transferred. The bill was on second reading on Friday and will be on third reading on Monday.

The House Education Committee also discussed HB 2345 on Tuesday. This bill would require that every county board hire one full-time school nurse for each public school in their district. The bill passed out of committee and was sent to the House Finance Committee.

The Senate Education Committee took up the Tim Tebow bill on Thursday. SB 28 is an expansion of the “Tim Tebow Bill” that passed during the 2020 Legislative Session. While last year’s bill only allowed home-schooled students to participate in public school sports (if they partake in one online public course), this bill expands that opportunity to private school and “Hope Scholarship” students. A non-public school student may only participate in a public-school extracurricular activity if that activity is not offered at their school. The student must participate in the county which they reside, and they must pay any and all participation or activity fees. The committee changed the name of the bill to “The Open and Equal Opportunities in Student Activities Act”. The bill passed out of committee and was sent to the floor.

SB 335 would expand the PROMISE Scholarship to those pursuing a certificate or degree at a West Virginia accredited community or technical college. The ACT composite score of 18, high school GPA of 2.5 and a maintained GPA of 2.2 would be required. The bill would also require all PROMISE students to be drug tested before each year and if they fail twice, they must enroll in a drug treatment program. The bill passed out of the committee and was sent to the Senate Finance Committee.

Also on Thursday, the Senate Education Committee discussed SB 431. This bill would allow the Department of Education to share information pertaining to school attendance electronically with the Division of Motor Vehicles so that each student does not have to acquire a paper form from the student attendance director for driver licensing purposes. The bill passed out of committee and was sent to the floor.

The Senate Judiciary Committee met Friday morning and took up SB 566. This bill would require that the WV Public Employees Grievance Board uphold any interpretations of school law or state board rules made by the State Superintendent. After almost two hours of debate the bill passed out of committee and was sent to the Senate floor.


Week Four

It has been an important week for education-related bills in the House and Senate. Several bills have passed this week and two especially harmful bills have been completed and sent to the governor.

The charter school bill (HB 2012) passed the Senate by a vote of 19-14 on Monday. It was then reported back to the House where they voted to accept the Senate’s version of the bill by a vote of 68-31 on Wednesday. We have sent a letter to the governor asking him to veto this bill, but we need your help. Call the governor and ask him to veto the bill. Governor Justice has just five days to either sign or veto a bill, otherwise it will become law with or without his signature so start calling him now!

Another bill we need your help with is the anti-strike bill (SB11). This bill passed the House by a vote of 53-46 on Tuesday. It was then sent back to the Senate where they voted to accept the House’s version of the bill by a vote of 21-12 on Wednesday. Again, start calling Governor Justice now and ask him to veto this bill.

Other bills that passed this week include:

  • HB 2013 (ESAs): This bill passed the House for the second time on Thursday by a vote of 57-42 and will now be sent to the Senate. The bill would give $4,600 to students who have been enrolled in public school for at least 45 days. The money can be used for things like private school tuition and tutoring. The program is open to public school students with a cap of 5% of the state’s student body population. However, if enrollment in the program is less than 5% by July 1, 2024 then the program will open to private and home school students in 2026. This would put the cost of the bill at well over $100 million. Start calling your senators now and ask them to vote NO on this bill!
  • HB 2267 (Bus operator in Residence): The bill passed the House by a vote of 93-0 on Monday and will now be sent to the Senate. The program is an incentive to get more bus drivers. Those who participate will receive 60% of the base salary of a regularly employed bus driver with zero years of experience. Upon completion of the program, a person must work 6 months as a substitute bus driver in the county or pay the money back. 
  • HB 2791 (Vocational Schools Enrollment): This bill passed the House by a vote of 96-2 on Wednesday and will now be sent to the Senate. The bill would allow for home school and private school students to take classes at a county vocational school as space allows.
  • SB 356 (Driver’s Ed): The bill passed by a vote of 33-0 in the Senate on Wednesday and will now be sent to the House. This bill would allow the written part of the driver’s license exam to be taken in school driver education courses. 

An open enrollment bill began moving in the Senate this week. SB 375 would limit the reason that an open enrollment application can be denied. The bill says an application may only be denied by a county board of education due to grade level capacity, if allowing the transfer would not be in the best interest of the nonresident student, or if the nonresident student failed to fill out or submit the application correctly. The bill was on second reading/amendment stage on Friday. No amendments were made and it will be on third reading on Monday.

SB 435 was also on second reading on Friday. This bill would require a county superintendent to authorize at least one principal or administrator at each nonpublic school in the county to issue a work permit for students at that school. This bill also be on third reading on Monday.

HB 2906 was on first reading in the House on Friday. This bill originated in the House Education Committee on Tuesday and deals with School Building Authority Funding. The bill would allow the SBA to use 10% of their annual construction and major improvements budget for projects at vocational schools throughout the state. The current limit is 3%. The bill will be on second reading on Monday.

HB 2746 creates the Behavioral Health Workforce Initiative administered by the Higher Education Policy Commission and was discussed in the House Education Committee on Tuesday. The intent of the program is to incentivize and promote careers in behavioral health by:

  • Providing funds for two additional residents in West Virginia based psychiatry programs each year, beginning in 2022 until a total of eight additional psychiatry residents are added by 2026.
  • Providing funds for five one-year doctoral-level psychology internship stipends in West Virginia, beginning in July 2021 and increasing the number of interns supported by the program to 10 by July 2024.
  • Providing funds for 20 masters’ degree level psychology, social work, and counseling internship stipends in West Virginia, beginning in July 2021 and increasing the number of interns supported by the program to 40 by July 2024.

The bill was passed out of committee and will now be sent to the floor.

The Jump Start Savings Account Bill started moving in the Senate. The Senate Education Committee discussed HB 2001 on Thursday. The bill creates this account which acts like a Smart 529 Account that can be used for trades instead of college. The tax-free money can be used for tools and equipment needed for an apprenticeship, applying for a certification and more. The bill passed out of committee and was sent to the floor.

HJR1 showed up in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. This resolution would put a proposed amendment to the WV Constitution the ballot in the 2022 general election. This would state that any rules put into effect by the State Board of Education, shall be submitted to the Legislature for its review and approval/rejection. This resolution passed out of committee and was sent to the Senate floor.

HB 2852 was in the House Education Committee on Thursday. This bill deals with the State Department of Education’s requirement to distribute each county’s share of funds for increased enrollment. This bill removes the requirement that the first half of funds be distributed by September 1. Instead, all funds would be distributed on or before December 31. Counties may request up to 60% of their share based on projected increase numbers before December 31. This bill passed out of committee and was sent to the House Finance Committee.

The committee also discussed HB 2097 on Thursday. This bill creates a calculation for including homeschooled students enrolled in one virtual class to a county’s net enrollment. The county’s net enrollment would be increased by multiplying the number of those students by 0.15. This bill passed out of committee and was sent to the floor.


2021 Governor Justice State of the State Address Transcipt