SUPERINTENDENT INTERPRETATION
 
Interpretation's Date: September 24, 2003
by superintendent David Stewart
Section: VIII. Finance
 
Interpretation

September 24, 2003

Sharon Summerfied-Shortridge
27 Beechwood Ave.
Winfield, WV 25213

Dear Ms. Summerfield-Shortridge:

I am in receipt of your request for a Superintendent?s Interpretation dated August 26, 2003, regarding sabbatical leaves for teachers. Specifically, you ask whether teachers who are granted a year long sabbatical leave are to be granted a year of teaching experience and a year of retirement benefits, and request a ?complete state law interpretation of 18-2-11" with regard to your situation.

West Virginia Code ?18-2-11 states, in pertinent part:

? . . . compensation during such leave [shall not] be more than one half of the employee's regular salary. ?While on sabbatical leave the employee shall be deemed to be a full-time employee for purposes of years of experience and participation in the teachers retirement system and the public employee insurance program. Any employee receiving a sabbatical leave shall be required to return to employment by the board which granted the leave for a period of at least one year or repay the compensation and benefits received during that time and have deducted the retirement credit and years of service credit accrued during sabbatical leave . . .?

West Virginia Board of Education Policy 5530, Sabbatical Leave Policy for Professional Educators and Teacher Aides, likewise provides, in section 5.2:

?Employees may be compensated during the sabbatical leave period up to one-half (?) of their regular salary.?

Section 5.3 of Policy 5530 states:

?While on sabbatical leave, employees shall be deemed to be employed full- time for the purposes of years of experience, accumulation of seniority, participation in the Teacher Retirement System and the Public Employees Insurance Program.?

Accordingly, while participation in a sabbatical leave program is optional for a county board of education, if a county does adopt a sabbatical leave policy, any teacher who is approved for a sabbatical leave is to be deemed a full-time employee for the purpose of accruing a year of regular seniority within the county, a year of experience for salary purposes, and a year of credit toward participation in the teachers retirement system. However, the county has discretion as to whether the employee will be paid one half of his or her regular salary during the sabbatical leave.

If a county has not adopted a sabbatical leave policy and a teacher merely requests a leave of absence to complete an advanced degree, the county will not be bound by the provisions of West Virginia Code ?18-2-11 and Policy 5530. Rather, the rights of the teacher will be governed by other applicable sections of the West Virginia Code.

Hoping that I have been of service, I am

Sincerely,

/s/

David Stewart
State Superintendent of Schools

DS/hld