SUPERINTENDENT INTERPRETATION
 
Interpretation's Date: April 23, 2010
by superintendent Dr. Steven L. Paine
Section: III. County Educational Administration
SubSection: B. County Superintendents

 

Interpretation

MEMORANDUM

To: County Superintendents From: Steven L. Paine, State Superintendent of Schools Date: April 23, 2010
Subject: Clarification of Superintendent Interpretation dated February 13, 2007 Re: Time frame for appointing/hiring county superintendents

By issuing this Memorandum, I hope clarify some of the confusion that still exists regarding the time frame in which a county board of education can appoint a new superintendent or extend the contract of an existing superintendent. This interpretation will be a clarification of the interpretation issued on February 13, 2007 and incorporates legislative changes enacted in 2009.

In 1964, the Attorney General issued an opinion stating that "a county superintendent of schools, elected to fill a regular term of office beginning on July 1 of a specific year, should be elected by his county board of education between January 1 and May 1 of that year; thus, for a regular term of office beginning July 1, 1965, a county superintendent of schools should be elected by his county board of education on or before the first day of May, but not prior to January 1, 1965."

The 1964 opinion was written at a time when board of education members were elected in the November and took office the following January. Since that time the law regarding election of county board of education members has changed. County Board of Education members are now elected in the May primary and take office in July. Because of this change, the State Superintendent requested that the Attorney General revise the 1964 opinion to enlarge the time period in which a county superintendent may be appointed. In a response to the request, a staff lawyer in the Attorney General?s office issued a letter indicating that the hiring of a new county superintendent could occur at any time in the year preceding his or her appointment because the law regarding the election of county board of education members had changed.

Prior to 2009, W. Va. Code ?18-4-1 stated, in pertinent part:

(a) The county superintendent shall be appointed by the board upon a majority vote of the members thereof to serve for a term of not less than one, nor more than four years. At the expiration of the term or terms for which he or she shall have been appointed, each county superintendent shall be eligible for reappointment of additional terms of not less than one, nor more than four years: Provided, That at the expiration of his or her term or terms of service the county superintendent may transfer to any teaching position in the county for which he or she is qualified and has seniority, unless dismissed for statutory reasons. The appointment of the county superintendent shall be made on or before the first day of June for a term beginning on the first day of July following the appointment.

However, in the 2009, the Legislature enacted certain changes to W. Va. Code ? 18-4-1. Specifically, the portion of the statute cited above was rewritten as follows:

(a) The county superintendent shall be appointed by the board upon a majority vote of the members thereof to serve for a term of not less than one, nor more than four years. At the expiration of the term or terms for which he or she shall have been appointed, each county superintendent shall be eligible for reappointment for additional terms of not less than one, nor more than four years.

(1) At the expiration of his or her term or terms of service the county superintendent may transfer to any teaching position in the county for which he or she is qualified and has seniority, unless dismissed for statutory reasons.

(2) The appointment of the county superintendent shall be made between January 1 and June 1 for a term beginning on July 1 following the appointment.

Thus, the Legislature has now codified that the period during which a county board of education may appoint a new superintendent falls between January 1 and June 1. Thus, for superintendents beginning a term of employment on July 1, 2010, the period of appointment is proper if it occurs any time between January 1, 2010 and June 1, 2010. Likewise, for superintendents beginning a term of employment on July 1, 2011, the period of appointment is proper if it occurs any time between January 1, 2011 and June 1, 2011.

I hope this memorandum clarifies and provides helpful information regarding the time frame in which a county board of education can appoint a new superintendent or extend the contract of an existing superintendent. If you have further questions, please contact the West Virginia Department of Education?s Office of Legal Services at (304)558-3667.

SLP/hld