May 13, 2014 - Volume 34 Issue 19





[Editor’s Note: Refer to “TRSC Addresses Several Issues” for more on this subject.]
West Virginia School Board Association Executive Director Howard M. O’Cull, Ed.D., has written state Supt. James Phares, Ed.D., asking him to provide a written interpretation regarding whether re-elected county boards of education members are compelled to attend orientation after their re-election.

The interpretation comes in response to a legal opinion the Boone County Board of Education received earlier in the calendar year wherein provisions of W.Va. Code §18-5-1a were interpreted as applicable upon a county board member’s re-election to his or her board, despite initial orientation attendance.

The pertinent section of §18-5-1a reads:

  1. A person elected to a county board after July 1, 1990, may not assume the duties of county board member unless he or she has first attended and completed a course of orientation relating to boardsmanship and governance effectiveness which shall be given between the date of election and the beginning of the member’s term of office under the following conditions:
    1. A portion or portions of subsequent training such as that offered in orientation may be provided to members after they have commenced their term of office;
    2. Attendance at the session of orientation given between the date of election and the beginning of the member’s term of office permits the member-elect to assume the duties of county board member, as specified in this section;
    3. Members appointed to the county board shall attend and complete the next orientation course offered following their appointment; and
    4. The provisions of this subsection relating to orientation do not apply to members who have taken office prior to July 1, 1988, and who serve continuously from that date forward.”

No previous state superintendent interpretations have been issued regarding the applicability of the section to county board members who were re-elected to subsequent terms after having attended a previous orientation session. But the practice that developed had the orientation provision apply only to newly elected members who had not attended orientation or county board members who had breaks in service after attending orientation.

Under terms of state law, “…any citizen, teacher, school official, county or state officer, the state superintendent of schools shall give his interpretation of the meaning of any part of the school law or of the rules of the state board of education.” (§18-3-6.). 

To date, no communication has been received from the state superintendent of schools. The request was made last week.

Under terms of §18-5-1a, “Failure to attend and complete the approved course of orientation and training relating to boardsmanship and governance effectiveness without good cause as determined by the state board by duly promulgated legislative rules constitutes neglect of duty…”

The code section cited, §6-6-7, relates to removal from office through a process that citizens or others can bring, which could result in the convening of a three-judge panel to hear allegations of neglect of duty (or other similar allegations against a public official).\

The previous code provision called for the state board of education to commence removal proceedings in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

During its 2009 regular session, the West Virginia Legislature removed that provision of statute, including the language from §6-6-7.

That code suggestion was made on behalf of the West Virginia School Board Association, which concluded, after consultation with various legal experts, the state board did not have such authority over elected school board members. Moreover, state board officials concurred in the code revision.



West Virginia School Board Association President Gary M. Kable (Jefferson) will be contacting the association’s Executive Board concerning continuation of work on a strategic plan for WVSBA.

According to Kable, the particulars of his plan will be outlined in a June association executive board meeting that is to be held in conjunction with WVSBA Orientation ’14.

Kable said he will propose that a “small committee” comprised of both WVSBA Executive Board members and “a few” representatives of county boards.

“This will provide a good balance to examine the product from the strategic plan we developed in February.”

Kable is referring to a Feb. 20, 2014, meeting of an association strategic planning committee that was held in conjunction with the association’s 2014 Winter Conference in Charleston.

Bowles Rice LLP Managing Partner Thomas A. Heywood facilitated that session.

Kable says the association should work to develop a strategic plan for several reasons, including how to find the “direction and purpose” of the organization, how the organization can be more effective in working with state-level policymakers, especially the state Board of Education, how the organization can “more effectively” communicate to both “internal and external entities” and how the organization can remain “fiscally sound.”

“I know we are about to change association leadership in terms of our executive officers. I have talked with each of them and they have pledged to move this proposal forward,” Kable said.

He added, “What I plan to do is to provide a list of names of persons whom I believe can best make strategic planning work. For that reason, I will provide the recommended names to the executive board for their June meeting.”
He said is appointing himself as chair of the group and that he expects incoming Association President Jim Crawford Sr. (Kanawha) to honor that appointment.

The date for the June executive board meeting has not been determined, according to WVSBA Executive Director Howard M. O’Cull, Ed.D.
He said the Executive Committee will make that decision during the week of May 19, 2014.



The County Board Member Training Standards Review Committee (TSRC) acted on several matters, including a proposed Leadership Capacity Delivery Model, joint training with counterparts in Virginia and other training issues, at the committee’s latest meeting, April 28, in Charleston. The TSRC is a body authorized by statute. Gayle Manchin, president of the state school board, also chairs the TSRC.

These are the issues the committee dealt with at the meeting:

  •  “Leadership Capacity Delivery Model.” Howard M. O’Cull, Ed.D., West Virginia School Board Association executive director and TSRC secretary, discussed this endeavor. The Leadership Capacity Development Model is a venture initiated by the state superintendent of schools, the West Virginia Board of Education/Department of Education and the West Virginia School Board Association. Marshall University and West Virginia University professors have developed and provided programmatic leadership modules. The focus of this effort has shifted largely to provision of training and development to county boards of education, particularly boards operating under state board of education intervention. Recent programming has occurred in Fayette and Gilmer counties. Additional programming is set for the Wayne County Board of Education. The primary “Leadership Capacity Development” training for Gilmer County related to visioning, team building and student achievement. Other sessions involved school finance, board service and governance and effective meeting management. The Fayette training related to board service and governance. Subsequent training will be about visioning, team-building and communications. The Wayne County board’s training will relate to student achievement. Dr.  O’Cull told the TSRC a major issue facing county boards is the need to bolster county superintendent leadership so that superintendents can lead boards, primarily through informational means, to achieve policy outcomes that are data-based, grounded in research and best practices and with an orientation toward accountability through effective board oversight and monitoring.
  • Awareness Campaign. As part of a continuing TSRC discussion, members reviewed how to promote county board service with various “publics.” Manchin and others discussed how county board members can be made aware of state-level policy matters, especially how some state issues affect county school systems. The discussion will continue in future sessions. 
  • Joint Training with Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA). Dr. O’Cull commented on a joint meeting to be held in early summer, involving representatives of the two state associations. It likely will be held in Wytheville, Va. The purpose would be to pursue a joint school board member training session with VSBA. The session would be held in spring 2015.
  • Policy Regarding Receipt of Non-WVSBA Training Credits.  As directed by the TSRC, Dr. O’Cull will work with representatives of the state Department of Education to develop, for the TSRC approval, a policy regarding county board members’ receipt of non-WVSBA training. Several TSRC members commented on this issue, including incoming WVSBA President Jim Crawford Sr. (Kanawha) who questioned whether it is appropriate for Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs) to provide county board member training, saying it amounted to encroachment and that an approach was opportunistic on the part of a “few RESAs.” Manchin commented that such training proposals should be submitted in advance to the committee, based on the criteria the TSRC would develop.
  • WVSBA Orientation ’14 – June 23-25, 2014, Waterfront Place, Morgantown. The Committee did not finalize the program. Several suggestions were made regarding the draft proposed by Dr. O’Cull. The program will be presented to the state Board of Education at its June meeting in Charleston. 
  • Consideration of whether or not a reelected county board of education member who complied with the orientation requirement before beginning a prior term of office must again attend and complete orientation before beginning a new term.  Dr. O’Cull reported that a county board superintendent at the request of board members asked Bowles Rice LLP to provide an opinion on this matter. A Bowles Rice attorney, in reviewing West Virginia Code §18-5-1a, provided a county board with the notion that a reading of the code would appear to compel all elected county board members, including re-elected county board members who may have attended orientation, to attend such programming prior to assuming office for a subsequent term or terms. In terms of the TSRC itself, Dr. O’Cull recommended the committee itself should have no role in the issue per se, but said other legal avenues were available for additional consideration of the question having been posed to Bowles Rice LLP. Among other things, Dr. O’Cull will poll veteran members to secure some ideas about orientation “re-attendance.” He did point out that attendance at required county board trainings, including orientation, was a matter that members are to decide, knowing there are statutory sanctions, including possible removal from office, for not abiding by statutory provisions relative to required county board member trainings.
  • Request for approved county board member training credits: Affordable Care Act:  Compliance Issues for West Virginia Boards of Education - Regional Education Service Agency 6 - March 6, 2014 - Jill E. Hall, Esq., Bowles Rice LLP, presenter. Following lengthy discussion, the TSRC voted to grant county board members who attended this particular training one hour of credit toward the seven hours credit required in statute. Accordingly, Dr. O’Cull was directed to contact all county board members who have attended similar trainings to see whether or not they wish to receive similar consideration in terms of training hours.

The next TSRC meeting will be held in June, although a specific date was not determined.



A woman well known among members of the West Virginia School Board Association has died. Wilma Harvey, the wife of longtime Monongalia County Board of Education member Clarence “Junior” Harvey Jr., Ed.D., died late in April.

Mrs. Harvey accompanied Dr. Harvey to most of the West Virginia School Board Association training sessions, to various Regional Education Service Agency 7 meetings and similar functions.

Services for her were held Saturday, April 26, in Morgantown.

Wilma Harvey was born September 4, 1927, in Core, W.Va. She was a 1946 graduate of Clay Battelle High School.

Among her survivors are a son and daughter, 16 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, two sisters, and a daughter-in-law. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by a son.

Expressions of sympathy may be forwarded to Dr. Harvey. His mailing address is: 16 Camden Street, Morgantown, WV 26501. His email address is:



WVSBA Orientation ’14
June 23-25
Waterfront Place, Morgantown


WVSBA Presidents Retreat
July 11/12, 2014
Glade Springs Resort, Daniels


WVSBA Conference ’14
September 12/13
Charleston Marriott Town Center Hotel, Charleston


WVSBA The November Workshop
November 8, 2014
Stonewall Resort, Roanoke