SUPERINTENDENT INTERPRETATION
 
Interpretation's Date: January 3, 2001
by superintendent David Stewart
Section: IV. Students
 
Interpretation

January 3, 2001

Michael J. Vetere, Jr.
Superintendent
Monongalia County Schools
13 South High Street
Morgantown, WV 26501

Dear Mr. Vetere:

This is to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated December 1, 2000 relative to the Monongalia County Schools Policy - JFCH Alcohol and Controlled Substance Abuse Policy. In particular, you asked:

?If the school system?s investigation finds by a preponderance of evidence to conclude that a student violated the Alcohol and Controlled Substance Abuse Policy by distributing and selling a controlled substance on school property and therefore wishes to administer consequences for this offense and delineated in the policy, is there any reason for the school system to alter its allegations as a function of the student?s plea-bargain agreement with the Court??
West Virginia State Board of Education Policy 2422.5 entitled, Substance Abuse Policy, which copy is enclosed, provides that each county should adopt a policy which ?provide[s] a consistent means for handling drug related difficulties while recognizing the needs and rights of all parties involved, within the confines of the law and sensible judgment.? One of the required components of each county policy is an area for ?corrective measures? which includes ?appropriate disciplinary action as determined by county discipline procedures and those in the Rights and Responsibilities of Public School udents in West Virginia?. [emphasis added]

Additionally, West Virginia Code ?18A-5-1a states that:

(a) A principal shall suspend a pupil from school or from transportation to or from the school on any school bus if the pupil, in the determination of the principal, after an informal
Michael J. Vetere, Jr.
January 3, 2001
Page 2

hearing pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, has: . . .
(iii) sold a narcotic drug, as defined in section one hundred one, article one, chapter sixty-a of this code, on the premises of an educational facility, at a school-sponsored function or on a school bus. If a student has been suspended pursuant to this subsection, the principal shall, within twenty-four hours, request that the county superintendent recommend to the county board that the student be expelled. Upon such a request by a principal, the county superintendent shall recommend to the county board that the student be expelled. Upon such recommendation, the county board shall conduct a hearing in accordance with subsections (e) and (f) of this section to determine if the student committed the alleged violation. If the county board of education finds that the student did commit the alleged violation, the county board of education shall expel the student.

(b) A principal shall suspend a pupil from school, or from transportation to or from the school on any school bus, if the pupil, in the determination of the principal after an informal hearing pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, has: (i) Committed an act or engaged in conduct that would constitute a felony under the laws of this state if committed by an adult; or (ii) unlawfully possessed on the premises of an educational facility or at a school-sponsored function a controlled substance governed by the Uniform Controlled Substances Act as described in chapter sixty-a of this code. If a student has been suspended pursuant to this subsection, the principal may request that the superintendent recommend to the county board that the student be expelled. Upon such recommendation by the county superintendent, the county board may hold a hearing in accordance with the provisions of subsections (e) and (f) of this section to determine if the student committed the alleged violation. If the county board
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January 3, 2001
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finds that the student did commit the alleged violation, the county board may expel the student.
This is also discussed in Section VII of the Rights and Responsibilities of Public School Students in West Virginia.

Policy 4373 ?is to compliment the Students Rights and Responsibilities Handbook (Policy 4372)? which provides that every student shall refrain from the possession or use of illegal drugs. [See ??2.3, 4.1.5] This policy allows principals to temporarily suspend from school any student who commits a serious violation of the Student Code of Conduct, ?5.3, and allows the county board of education to expel any student who commits a serious violation of the Code of Conduct which the board feels could cause danger to other persons or property, ?5.4. Again, this policy requires each county board of education to develop and maintain appropriate policies for implementation of this policy. [See ?6.1]

It would appear that your county policy would control as to the issue you raise. In reviewing the policy provided, I find no reference to the amount, if any, of deference that must be given to the results of criminal prosecutions, plea agreements, or other proceedings. Therefore, this is a matter that must be interpreted by the Monongalia County Board of Education.

Hoping that I have been of service, I am,

Sincerely,

/s/

David Stewart
Superintendent of Schools

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