Interpretation's Date: January 25, 1991
by superintendent Henry Marockie
Section: V. Personnel
SubSection: B. Principals, Supervisors, and Central Office Administrators
January 25, 1991
Mr. Roger G. Brady
Dear Mr. Brady:
You have asked:
1. What impact has this enactment of W.Va. Code 18A-4-7a had on the RIF process for county office administrators, principals, and assistant principals?
It has expressly equated the positions of principal, supervisor and central office administrator. It has expressly included the central office administrator in seniority law even though he/she often is not certified for the directory or other administrative positions (although frequently certified as a teacher).1 It has based the seniority of principals and assistant principals, supervisors and assistant supervisors, central office administrators and their assistants upon time employed in their common area of employment rather than upon time certified or otherwise licensed.2 Furthermore, for RIF purposes, it has prioritized all professional personnel according to their class of licensure.3
2. Can a county office administrator with principal certification and more than ten years of county seniority, but who has no experience as a principal, bump a current principal with less seniority?
If by "more than ten years of county seniority" you mean time employed by the board in the area of administration (as defined by the fourth paragraph of /18A-4-7a), then the answer is yes - if that principal is the least senior among the board's principals, supervisors, and central office administrators.
1 Compare //18-9A-2 & 4 and 18A-4-5a & 7a.
2 See /18A-4-7a, fourth paragraph.
3 See /18A-4-7a, sixth paragraph.
Mr. Roger G. Brady
Although /18A-4-7a does not mention assistant principals, assistant supervisors or assistant central office administrators, I construe this statute (and /18A-2-9) as placing these assistants on a lower rung of the educational career ladder. Consequently, they could not get a promotion by RIF. On the other hand, an employee from the higher rung could not replace an employee on the lower rung who had equal or more seniority in the area of administration4 because the basis for their seniority is administration, which they hold in common.
3. Can a least senior principal whose position is RIF'd bump a county office administrator who has less seniority?
There is not a domino effect. Instead, all principals, supervisors and central office administrators are treated as having the same type of job, namely, professional administrative.
Reading and considering //18-9A-4 and 18A-4-7a together, when abolishing administrative positions you must prefer principalships over assistant principalships, and the latter over central office administrators5 (many of whom should be certified only as classroom teachers6). Code 18-9A-4 appears to include supervisors in the meaning of central office administrators even though it defines them differently in /18A-1-1(c)(3) and distinguishes between them in /18A-4-7a.7 On the other hand, the employees
4 The Legislature does, though, consider some administrative positions to be more important than others, according to /18-9A-4.
5 According to /18-9A-4, "It is the intent of the Legislature that in planning reductions in force to comply with reduced ratios of professional educators to students in adjusted enrollment, county boards shall consider positions for elimination in the following order: (1) Central office administrators, (2) assistant principals, and (3) principals."
6 According to /18-9A-4, ". . . county boards shall whenever possible utilize classroom teachers for curriculum administrative positions through the use of modified or extended contracts . . ." Cf. /18-9A-2 re: "Professional instructional personnel," and /18A-4-5a.
7 Cf. Footnotes #5 and 6 of this letter. A supervisor, according to Rule 5202 of the West Virginia Board of Education, must be certified to supervise.
Mr. Roger G. Brady
occupying these three kinds of positions are treated nearly the same by the seniority law (/18A-4-7a).8
Therefore, if a principalship is abolished, the displaced principal will replace the principal, supervisor, or central office administrator with the least amount of seniority (based upon time employed in administration). This person may or may not be the least senior principal. He/she may, instead, be the least senior supervisor or central office administrator (based upon time employed in administration).
The displaced person will then replace the assistant principal, assistant supervisor or assistant central office administrator with the least seniority (based upon time employed in administration) if that employee's seniority is less than his or hers. Then that displaced person will replace the classroom teacher with the least seniority in all of his/her professional teaching areas of certification; however, in this instance seniority will be based upon ". . . the length of time both employees have been employed as . . regular full-time certified and/or licensed professional educators by the county board of education, . . . " according to /18A-4-7a.
In competition for classroom teaching positions, seniority is - in other words - the time one has been professionally employed by the board. Seniority is the same for all certified or licensed teaching areas regardless of when the certificate or license was issued.
A professional administrator or classroom teacher cannot - as you take notice in your second question - serve in any position for which he or she would have to be certified or licensed, yet is not.
8 "Guidance counselors and all other professional employees, as defined in section one, article one of this chapter, except classroom teachers, shall gain seniority in their non-teaching area of professional employment on the basis of the length of time the employee has been employed by the county board of education in that area: Provided, That if an employee is certified as a classroom teacher, the employee accrues classroom teaching seniority for the time that that employee is employed in another professional area. For the purposes of accruing seniority under this paragraph, employment as principal, supervisor or central office administrator, as defined in section one, article one of this chapter, shall be considered one area of employment." With no mention of assistant principals, etc., I conclude that they are on a lower rung between the expressly mentioned administrators and classroom teachers (who are not serving in an administrative position).
Mr. Roger G. Brady
4. Do we still RIF assistant principals prior to less senior principals?
No; it has been the Interpretation of the State Superintendent of Schools that less senior principals cannot replace equally senior or more senior assistant principals. The reason for this prior to enactment of /18A-4-7a was that both kinds of personnel held the same certification/licensure and that their common professional administrative certification/licensure was the basis for their seniority. Now the basis for their seniority is how long employed in administration, something which they hold in common, too - although there is a rank order of importance between principals and assistant principals, according to /18A-2-9.9
Hoping that I have been of service, I am,
cc: Dr. Billy Ray Dunn
9 W.Va. Code 18-9A-4 corroborates this, yet, it also ranks principals ahead of central office administrators (and presumably supervisors), whereas, Code 18A-4-7a appears to equate principals, supervisors and central office administrators (who are not supervisors as defined by /18A-1-1).