Legalities

January 17, 2020 - Volume 40 Issue 2

Legalities

By George “Trey” Morrone, Esq.

Q. Our superintendent’s contract expires on June 30 of this year. When may our board lawfully appoint or reappoint a superintendent for a term to begin July 1, 2020?

A. The appointment of a superintendent by a county board of education is a very important decision. The timeframe for doing so has been set by the Legislature and can be found in W.Va. Code §18-4-1. The specific question posed involves the expiration of a superintendent’s contract. In those cases, the applicable time frame to appoint or reappoint a superintendent is found in subsection (a)(2) of the code provision: “The appointment of the county superintendent shall be made between January 1 and June 1 for a term beginning on July 1 following the appointment.” The term “shall” signals that the law is mandatory. So, given the expiration of a superintendent’s contract on June 30, 2020, the lawful appointment or reappointment of a superintendent for a term beginning on July 1, 2020, must occur between January 1, 2020 and June 1, 2020.

Occasionally, a vacancy in the superintendent’s position occurs at a time other than at the expiration of a contract. Such cases result in an incomplete term and an interim superintendent may be appointed. W.Va. Code §18-4-1 contains additional timing provisions applying to the appointment of an interim superintendent. If the vacancy occurs prior to March 1, the county board may appoint an interim superintendent to serve until July 1. If the vacancy occurs after March 1, the county board may appoint an interim superintendent to serve until July 1 of the next following year, unless a superintendent is appointed sooner.

The appointment of a superintendent or interim superintendent requires a majority vote of the board. Also, any time a superintendent or interim superintendent is appointed, the county board president is required to immediately certify the appointment to the state superintendent of schools.

- Morrone serves as Bowles Rice LLP special counsel, having joined the Education Law Group January 1.