Legalities

February 22, 2019 - Volume 39 Issue 7

Legalities

Roger Hanshaw

By Josh Cottle, Esq.  

Question: It is “personnel season” and the Board is considering terminating, for lack of need, the continuing contracts for employees in service personnel and teacher positions. A quorum of three members of the Board is present for the meeting to determine whether to terminate the continuing contracts. Two of the three members, a majority of the members present, vote to terminate the continuing contracts. Is the vote by a majority of the members present sufficient to terminate the contracts?

Answer: No, according to West Virginia Code § 18A-2-2(c) (regarding termination of teacher contracts) and § 18A-2-6 (regarding termination of service personnel contracts).

Under West Virginia Code § 18A-2-2(c), a continuing contract for a teacher may not be terminated except “by a majority vote of the full membership of the county board on or before May 1 of the then current year . . . .” Similarly, § 18A-2-6 provides that the continuing contract of a service employee may only be terminated “by a majority vote of the full membership of the board on or before May 1 of the then current year . . . .”

The key part of those statutes is that the termination must be made by a majority vote of the “full membership of the board.” That means, at a minimum, three members of the Board must vote to terminate during personal season, for lack of need, the continuing contracts of teachers and school service personnel. Therefore, using our question above, although a majority of those present (2 of 3) voted to terminate the continuing contracts, all three would have been required to vote in favor of terminating the continuing contracts (3 of the 5 members).

It is important to contrast that with the various other motions that come before a Board. In the typical case, only a majority of a quorum is needed to approve a motion. When terminating continuing contracts for teachers and service personnel for lack of need, remember the rule of three, which is the majority of the full membership of the Board.

Editor’s Note: Joshua A. “Josh” Cottle, Esq., is an associate with Bowles Rice LLP (Charleston). He practices education law with Bowles Rice.