An analysis of the laws affecting public school administrators, teachers, service and auxiliary personnel in West Virginia

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The purpose of this study was to examine provisions of the Constitution of West Virginia, enactments of the West Virginia Legislature, decisions of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, policies of the West Virginia Board of Education, opinions of the: Attorney General, and interpretations of the State Superintendent of Schools to ascertain the legal status of West Virginia public school personnel in the employment process, in liability cases arising from tort actions, and in other areas; where legal questions often arise. Federal Constitutional provisions, statutes, and court cases were also considered when of overriding importance or when West Virginia legal references were inadequate.

Legal research of the process of employment of public school personnel focused on the following areas: nomination for employment, discrimination, substantive and procedural due process, certifieation, probationary and continuing contracts, assignment and, transfer, suspension and dismissal, resignations, employment term, and compensation.

Tort cases were classified by the author as either traditional or constitutional torts. Traditional torts reviewed included strict liability, assault and/or battery, defamation, and negligence. Of particular concern were assault and battery cases related to corporal punishment, the use of qualified privilege as a defense in defamation cases, and negligence cases alleging abridgement of the duty of school personnel to provide proper supervision, proper instruction in performing dangerous activities, and proper maintenance of equipment. Tort actions arising from abridgement of a person's constitutional rights by state or governmental authorities were classified as constitutional torts. lt was found that successful plaintiffs have. been able to secure injunctive relief as well as damages. from school officials and boards of education, both now considered "persons" under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871.

Other legal provisions studied in relationship to West Virginia public school personnel included the following: curriculum and instructional matters, academic freedom, assignment of duties, personal leave and leaves of absence, fringe benefits, retirement, grievances, employee organizations, and collective bargaining.