CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Board of Education has been considering policy changes that reflect the new requirements in Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s comprehensive education reform law.
On Thursday, the board took up reforms to teacher hiring practices. Nine criteria will now be considered when a teacher is hired. One of those criteria involves input from teachers on who gets the job.
However, protections are included in the law for those teachers who are involved in the process. Grievances, or complaints about hires after the fact, cannot be based on the opinions of faculty members alone.
The law states: “This will allow teachers to be meaningfully involved in the hiring recommendation process in an open and honest manner without fear of reprisal, retaliation or coercion and will minimize lost instructional time and classroom disruption.”
West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said he thinks the wording limits teachers’ ability to file grievances. “To ensure that the procedure is done properly, you have to have that opportunity to file a grievance when the procedure is not done properly,” he said.
Monongalia County Delegate Barbara Fleischauer agreed. “If these are the nine criteria in the hiring practice, you can’t say under the Constitution, or under state law now, that one of them doesn’t count,” she said.
“I just think a grievance process is a basic to our country.”
As required by Tomblin’s education reform bill, the Board of Education has until July 1 to establish a teacher hiring rule. The reforms passed Thursday will take effect at that deadline, which will land during the middle of a 30-day public comment period.
The policy dealing with hiring practices is just one of the changes the state board must make to meet the requirements of the new education reform law.