Interpretation's Date: March 9, 2001
by superintendent David Stewart
Section: V. Personnel
SubSection: B. Principals, Supervisors, and Central Office Administrators



March 9, 2001

Terry M. Nelson, Principal
Coalton Elementary School
P.O. Box 129
Coalton, WV 26257

Dear Mr. Nelson:

Our legal services department received your request for a Superintendent's Interpretation regarding the reduction of a full-time elementary principalship in your county to a half-time position. You stated that the enrollment at Homestead Elementary had dropped to below one hundred seventy for the past two years and was projected to be at about one hundred forty next year. Accordingly, your county has decided to reduce the full time principal position at the school to a half time position commencing with the 2001-2002 school year.

You indicate you were told that since the principal at Homestead has a full time position, he has the right to bump into the next least senior full time principal's position. You advise that the Homestead principal is the third least senior elementary principal in your county. You are the second least senior elementary principal. The least senior elementary principal is a half-time elementary principal at Valley Head Elementary. You were told that in working out the details of this RIF (reduction in force), the half-time principal's position could not be touched. You were also told that the state no longer allows a principal to be assigned to two schools.

Your questions were as follows:

"Question 1:
Since the enrollment at Homestead has been between 160 and 170 students that last 2 years, can/could that principal still maintain a full time principal's status based on his second month enrollment this year?"

Not necessarily. According to West Virginia Department of Education Policy 2320, for purposes of determining whether a full-time principal must be employed at a school, the previous year's second month enrollment report is considered, not the current

Mr. Terry M. Nelson
March 9, 2001
Page 2

year's enrollment. However, these figures may be an important factor for a county to consider in ultimately determining whether a full-time position should be reduced to a half-time position because of their potential future impact.

"Question 2 :
If the Homestead principal is cut to half time, can he bump the current, less senior, half time principal at Valley Head, and be assigned both schools, without bumping me?"

No. The "bumping" process in the scenario you described should occur as follows, in accordance with West Virginia Code 18A-4-7a:

Because the Homestead principal, whose current job is being reduced to a half-time position, is a full-time principal, he is entitled to bump into a full-time position if a full-time lateral position for which he is certified exists (assuming he has sufficient seniority to displace another employee). Lateral hire policies are determined at the county level, however, the logical assumption is that all elementary principal positions are lateral. If no lateral full-time position exists, a full-time professional employee whose current position is reduced would have the right to bump into a full-time professional position in an area for which he is certified and in which he was previously employed. Again, this assumes that he has greater seniority than the displaced employee.
West Virginia Code 18A-4-7a provides that where a county board is required to reduce the number of professional personnel in its employment, the employer with the least amount of seniority shall be properly notified and released from employment. According to the information in your letter, the half-time principal at Valley Head Elementary is the least senior elementary principal in your county. Thus, he should be the first elementary principal in your county released from employment to accommodate this RIF. However, as previously stated, the Homestead principal is entitled to a full-time position. Accordingly, the next least senior principal will have to be bumped to make room for the Homestead principal. This means that you, as the next least senior full-time elementary principal will be bumped. In other words, starting from the bottom of the seniority roster, both the Valley head principal and you will have to be displaced in order to identify a full-time destination for the displaced Homestead principal.

Finally, because you have more seniority than the half-time Valley Head principal, West Virginia Code 18A-4-7a provides a mechanism by which you would be bumped into that half time position.

"Question 3:
If the Homestead principal bumps me, principal at Coalton, do I have

Mr. Terry M. Nelson
March 9, 2001
Page 3

the right to bump the Valley Head position and be assigned to both Homestead and Valley Head?"

As set forth in the scenario above, you do have the right to bump into the Valley Head position. However, because the position at Homestead is newly created, it must be posted and filled pursuant to West Virginia Code 18A-4-7a. Assuming you meet all of the certification requirements, you would be able to apply for that job. West Virginia Code 18A-2-9 and West Virginia Department of Education policy allow for a principal to be assigned to two schools, but prohibit a principal from being assigned to more than two schools.

"Question 4:
Is it mandatory for county boards to assign half time principals to schools with enrollment less than 170 students?"

It is not mandatory for county boards to assign half time principals to schools with net enrollments of less than one hundred seventy students. It is only mandatory that boards of education employ a full time supervising principal at each school whose net enrollment equals or exceeds one hundred seventy students. See West Virginia Code 18A-2-9.

In reading this interpretation, it is important to note that other factors not mentioned in your correspondence could affect the analysis herein. Thus, the interpretation should be considered a response only to those questions and fact patterns set forth in your request.

Hoping that I have been of service, I am



David Stewart
State Superintendent of Schools


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