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A Change this Personnel Season: Reserving Vacancies for Individuals Subject to Release

Personnel Season is in full swing for county boards of education. Personnel offices, among other things, are busy ensuring proper notices have been sent to impacted employees, employees have been afforded hearings before a reduction or transfer is acted upon by the board, and ensuring board of education agendas are legally compliant. At the same time, personnel offices are receiving early notice of year-end retirements from classroom teachers. W. V a. Code 18A-2-2(g) provides classroom teachers, who provide early notice of year-end retirement, qualify for a $500 bonus if the teacher gives notice to the board of education on or before March 1, 2017.

A common question, especially this year with changes made to W. Va. Code 18A-4-7a(k)(2), is how to handle the statutory provision of reserving vacancies for individual professionals subject to release. For example, assume elementary teacher “A” submits to the board, on or before March 1, his/her early retirement notice effective at the conclusion of this school year. Thereafter (by law, on or before May 1, 2017), the personnel office notifies elementary teachers “B,” “C” and “D” all at different elementary schools in the county that they are being recommended for a reduction-in-force (their seniority doesn’t allow them to bump anyone countywide), and the board subsequently approves the reductions of these three employees (meaning they will not be guaranteed employment for the 2017-18 school year).

What happens with “A’s” position, which is needed for the 2017-18 school year? Does the board post “A’s” position so any and all interested individuals can apply?

As required by W. Va. Code 18A-4-7a(k)(2), “for any vacancy in an established, existing or newly created position that, on or before March 1, is known to exist for the ensuing school year, upon recommendation of the superintendent, the board shall appoint the successful applicant from among all qualified applicants. All employees subject to release [“B”, “C” and “D”] shall be considered applicants for the positions for which they are qualified and shall be considered before posting such vacancies for application by nonemployees.”

“A’s” position is posted, and “all qualified [in-county] applicants” are considered along the “employees subject to release [“B”, “C” and “D”]”. This of course is a change from last school year’s procedures, as in the prior years, “among all qualified applicants” was not the statutory language. In determining who the most qualified applicant is, among all qualified in-county applicants and those subject to a reduction in force, the county will apply W. Va. Code 18A-4-7a(b)(1) through (11) (the “11 factors”).

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About this Author

Jason Long, education law practice chair, Dinsmore Lewisburg Office

Jason Long is a Partner in the firm’s Lewisburg office, is the Chair of the Education Law Practice Group and a member of the Labor and Employment Practice Group. Jason's practice concentrates on two areas of law that are quite diverse from each other. The first area of Jason’s practice originates from his pre-lawyer days as an educator as well as growing up as the son of a county school superintendent. Jason focuses on representation of numerous county boards of education in the firm’s Educational Law Practice Group, providing a wide range of services, including, but not...