Interpretation's Date: March 9, 2001
by superintendent David Stewart
Section: III. County Educational Administration
SubSection: A. County Boards of Education
March 9, 2001
William W. Harmon
Dear Mr. Harmon:
I am in receipt of your request for a Superintendent's Interpretation regarding West Virginia Code 18A-1-1 as it applies to county attendance directors. You have asked:
"Of the four classifications [of 18A-1-1(c)] - classroom teacher, principal,
supervisor, or central office administrator - which defines an attendance
It is my opinion that an attendance director, who is employed by a county board of education and is a certified professional educator, is to be considered a central office administrator pursuant to the definitions set forth in 18A-1-1.
As you are well aware, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals discussed this precise issue in a per curiam opinion titled Harmon v. Fayette County Board of Education, 205 W. Va. 125, 516 S.E.2d 748 (1999). The case was appealed to the Supreme Court from the Circuit Court of Fayette County, which reviewed the decision of the Education and State Employees Grievance Board regarding your Level Four hearing. Ultimately, the Supreme Court's decision upheld the finding of the lower court which determined that attendance directors were not "classroom teachers."
The Supreme Court began its discussion with the principle that all personnel employed by a county board of education are school personnel pursuant to West Virginia Code 18A-1-1(a). This statute further divides school personnel into two categories: professional personnel and service personnel.
"Professional personnel" means persons who meet the certification and/or licensing requirements of the state, and shall include the professional educator and other professional employees. West Virginia Code 18A-1-1(b). As the Court noted, your county has required you, as an attendance director, to have a professional education certificate. Thus, because you meet the certification and licensing standards of the state, you fall under the title of "professional personnel."
William W. Harmon
One of the two categories of "professional personnel" is "professional educator." This term is synonymous with "teacher" as defined in West Virginia Code 18-1-1(g). "Teacher"means "teacher, supervisor, principal, superintendent, public school librarian; registered professional nurse . . . ; or any other person regularly employed for instructional purposes in a public school in this state." West Virginia Code 18-1-1(g). Attendance employees who hold a West Virginia teachers certificate are included within the definition of "teacher members" in West Virginia Code 18-7A-3. Accordingly, an attendance director is a professional educator.
The category of "professional educator" is further divided into four subcategories: classroom teacher, principal, supervisor, and central office administrator. West Virginia Code 18A-1-1(c)(1)-(4). Attendance directors are not specifically mentioned in the section. The duties of attendance employees are set forth in West Virginia Code 18-8-4. In reviewing these duties, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals found that they were primarily administrative in nature. The Court then examined all of the subcategories of 18A-1-1(c) and concluded that the "central office administrator" definition best fit the duties of an attendance director. In reaching this determination, the court noted that the same conclusion was reached by the Tennessee Supreme Court of Appeals in State ex rel. Pemberton v. Wilson, 481 S.W.2d 760 (Tenn. 1972).
After careful consideration of these issues, it is my conclusion that attendance directors are to be considered central office administrators pursuant to West Virginia Code 18-1-1.
Hoping that I have been of service, I am