The Senate met briefly on Tuesday morning and passed Senate Bill 189, which would provide for substantial deference to the state school superintendent’s interpretations of school laws.
The legislation states “county boards of education, county superintendents, employees of the county boards of education, and the West Virginia Public Employees’ Grievance Board shall give substantial deference to the state superintendent’s interpretation of that part of the school law or rules of the State Board of Education.”
The bill is an attempt to put in state code an issue already settled by the state Supreme Court in a case syllabus point. The court ruled that substantial deference must be given to a superintendent’s interpretation of a law or state Board of Education rule.
If passed, the law would apply when the superintendent receives an inquiry from county superintendent, a union or a citizen on the meaning of a rule or statute.
Those interpretations are stored in a publicly accessible database. They remain valid until a new law supersedes it or a new interpretation is issued upon request.
Senator Charles Trump (R-Morgan, 15) and other proponents of the bill have argued in the past and in committee that the law would create uniformity, citing that in theory, there could be 55 different interpretations of the same school law in West Virginia.
Senator Mike Caputo (D-Marion, 13) has consistently disagreed, saying this law would tip the scales in favor of school administrators in instances where employees have a grievance.
Similar versions of this bill passed the Senate in 2022 and 2023 before stalling in the House of Delegates.
The Senate is adjourned until tomorrow, Jan. 31, at 11 a.m.
Health at 1 p.m. in 451M
Judiciary at 3 p.m. in 208W
Finance at 3 p.m. in 451M
Morning Meetings for 1/31:
Agriculture and Natural Resources at 10 a.m. in 208W