September 22, 2003
Ronald E. Ray, Superintendent
Jackson County Schools
P.O. Box 770
Ripley, WV 25271
Dear Superintendent Ray:
I am in receipt of your request for a Superintendent?s Interpretation regarding the
legality of classifying all secretaries in a county as Executive Secretaries.
It is not proper for a county to list all secretaries in the county, including school
secretaries, on the certified list as Executive Secretaries for pay purposes. No county has received approval to take this action. This interpretation previously was expressed in a Superintendent?s Interpretation dated January 28, 1991. That interpretation provides that if a county wishes to pay all of its secretaries at the Executive Secretary level, it must do so from local funds. However, all secretaries cannot be listed as Executive Secretaries on the county?s certified list.
West Virginia Code ?18A-4-8 defines Executive Secretaries to be ?personnel
employed as the county school superintendent's secretary or as a secretary who is
assigned to a position characterized by significant administrative duties.? The West
Virginia Education and State Employees Grievance Board has determined, in Sanders v.
Putnam County Board of Education, Docket No. 01-40-630 (March 28, 2002), that the
distinction between the Secretary III and Executive Secretary classifications depends upon the duties and responsibilities of the individual to whom the secretary is assigned, not the secretary's own duties and responsibilities. Thus, the language in the Executive Secretary classification referring to "a secretary who is assigned to a position characterized by significant administrative duties" refers to the administrator or superior to whom the secretary is assigned, not the secretary.
In applying this rule, the Administrative Law Judge in the Sanders case held that a
Secretary III/Accountant assigned to the Assistant Superintendent in charge of Food
Services, Maintenance, and Transportation was not an Executive Secretary because the
assistant superintendent was not an administrator who was assigned to a position
characterized by significant administrative duties. As such, it is unlikely that a school
principal would be deemed to have significant administrative duties by the Grievance
Further, I believe that the Legislative intent in creating the classifications of
Secretary I, II, III, and Executive Secretary was to reserve the classification of Executive
Secretary for certain secretaries assigned to a county?s central office. Evidence of this
intent can be found in West Virginia Code ?18-5-22, which provides that school employees classified as Secretary I, II, or III may dispense medications to school students. This statute was specifically amended to include the secretary classifications so that school secretaries would be permitted to dispense medication. Significantly, the statute does not include the Executive Secretary classification. I believe that this is because the Legislature did not intend for school secretaries to be classified as Executive Secretaries. If a school secretary were to be classified as an Executive Secretary, that employee would not be permitted to dispense medication at his or her school pursuant to the specific language of West Virginia Code ?18-5-22.
Thus, it is my conclusion that school secretaries may not be listed as Executive
Secretaries on the state?s certified list. If a county wishes to compensate its school
secretaries at the Executive Secretary level, it must do so with local funds, not state funds.
Hoping that I have been of service, I am
State Superintendent of Schools