2021 Legislative Wrap-up
It has been an especially difficult Legislative Session. 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.