Interpretation's Date: January 12, 2001
by superintendent David Stewart
Section: V. Personnel
SubSection: A. Professional Personnel



January 12, 2001

William B. McGinley
West Virginia Education Association 1558 Quarrier Street
Charleston, WV 25311-2497

RE: Application Form

Dear Mr. McGinley:

This is to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated November 28, 2000 addressed to Joyce O'Dell, State Certification Officer, relative to the application forms used to apply for Advanced Salary Classification, in particular, Part III. This letter was received in Legal Services on December 7, 2000 and thereafter brought to my attention. You requested information as to "the legal basis for requiring this information prior to granting this application".

As you are aware West Virginia Code 18A-3-1(c) provides that "A certificate to teach shall not be granted to any person who is not a citizen of the United States, is not of good moral character and physically, mentally and emotionally qualified to perform the duties of a teacher and who has not attained the age of eighteen years on or before the first day of October of the year in which his certificate is issued." You are also aware that West Virginia Code 18A-3-6 provides that:

The state superintendent may, after ten days' notice and upon proper evidence, revoke the certificates of any teacher for drunkenness, untruthfulness, immorality, or for any physical, mental or moral defect which would render him unfit for the proper performance of his duties as a teacher, or for any neglect of duty or refusal to perform the same, or for using fraudulent, unapproved, or insufficient credit, or for any other cause which would have justified the withholding of a certificate when the same was issued.
* * * * * *
William B. McGinley
January 12, 2001
Page 2

If a certificate has been granted through an error, oversight, or misinformation, the state superintendent of schools shall have authority to recall the certificate and make such corrections as will conform to the requirements of law and the state board of education.

Additionally, West Virginia Code 18-2-5 provides that:

Subject to and in conformity with the constitution and laws of this state, the state board of education shall exercise general supervision of the public schools of the state, and shall make rules in accordance with the provisions of article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code for carrying into effect the laws and policies of the state relating to education, including rules relating to standards for performance and measures of accountability, the physical welfare of pupils, the education of all children of school age, school attendance, evening and continuation or part-time day schools, school extension work, the classification of schools, the issuing of certificates upon credentials, the distribution and care of free textbooks by the county boards of education, the general powers and duties of county boards of education, and of teachers, principals, supervisors and superintendents, and such other matters pertaining to the public schools of the state as may seem to the state board to be necessary and expedient. (emphasis added)

Finally, our Supreme Court, in Adler v. Board of Education, 342 U.S. 485, 72 S.Ct. 380 (1952) held that:

A teacher works in a sensitive area in a schoolroom. There he shapes the attitude of young minds towards the society which they live. In this, the state has a vital concern. It must preserve the integrity of the schools. That the school authorities have the right and the duty to screen officials, teachers, and employees as to their fitness to maintain the integrity of the schools as part of ordered society, cannot be doubted.

William B. McGinley
January 12, 2001
Page 3

As a result, when each section of code is read in pari materia as well as in conjunction with the Supreme Court opinion, it is clear that the state has the right, if not the obligation, to continue to monitor and screen teachers in order to insure that only fit teachers are "in a sensitive area in a schoolroom". Id. One mean by which this is accomplished is the use of the application which is the subject of your inquiry.

Hoping that I have been of service, I am,



David Stewart
Superintendent of Schools



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