Chris Schulz Published

State Board Of Education Discusses Effects Of Recent Legislation

A physician administers a shot into a woman's arm in a hospital setting.PhotoAlto/Michele Constantini

Education leaders are taking stock of what the state legislature did and didn’t do for schools in the regular session. 

Fred Albert, president of American Federation of Teachers-WV, expressed his concern over the passage of House Bill 5105 to the West Virginia Board of Education Wednesday morning. The bill removes private, parochial and virtual schools from state vaccine requirements. 

“I’m all for people having freedom and choice, that’s the American way of life, but when someone’s freedom then infringes upon the safety of others, I think we have a real concern,” he said. “Why would we want to go back to the days of measles and mumps and rubella? Chickenpox, polio?”

Albert said he is signing a public letter to Gov. Jim Justice urging him to veto the bill, and asked board members and listeners to contact the governor in opposition as well.

“I have a colleague that told me in Florida in one elementary classroom, they’ve had six cases of measles in one elementary classroom,” he said. “In Ohio, there are outbreaks of measles. Why would we want to go there? I just don’t understand it.”

Albert also expressed regret that Senate Bill 614, which would have allowed elementary teachers to remove disruptive students from their classroom, did not pass and told the board school discipline issues must be addressed.

“It was not a perfect deal. It had things in there that I didn’t like, but I think it was a start,” he said. “We’ve talked about the cry of our educators needing help with discipline in the classroom. So while that bill wasn’t perfect, it maybe was a beginning. But this looks like we educators have just been shut out, they’re not being heard.”

Policy Changes

The WVBE also approved withdrawing Policy 2322 from public comment. The policy was originally amended to clarify language related to the identification of school districts in need of support for student academic achievement and success and the required actions of the districts based on the level of support needed. In addition, the responsibilities of county board members and the requirements for each level of support were clarified.

Two bills passed during the regular session of the state legislature that ended Saturday make changes to the code the policy refers to, and are currently awaiting Gov. Jim Justice’s signature. Senate Bill 172 revises requirements of local school improvement councils, while House Bill 5514 enhances training requirements for county boards of education members. This requires the policy be withdrawn, revised and presented for placement on public comment at a future board meeting, inclusive of legislative amendments.

Meeting Date Change

The next regularly scheduled WVBE meeting was changed. It will be held on Tuesday, April 9, 2024, at 9 a.m.