Interpretation's Date: March 30, 2004
by superintendent David Stewart
Section: V. Personnel

March 24, 2004

Ronald Duerring, Ed.D.
Kanawha County Schools
200 Elizabeth Street
Charleston, WV 25311-2119

Dear Dr. Duerring:

I am in receipt of your request for a Superintendent's Interpretation regarding West Virginia Code 18A-4-1(1), "Years of experience."

Specifically, you explain that Paul Moore, a music teacher in your county, has requested that he be granted twenty-four years of teaching experience for pay purposes. Mr. Moore served as a private instructor at a local music store from 1975 to the present. A lesson record from the store indicates that Mr. Moore worked between 240 and 195 days annually in school years 1974-1975 through 2000-2001 and instructed between 204 and 42 students per year. Mr. Moore was already granted two years of teaching experience for 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 school years as he worked in excess of 133 days as a substitute teacher in Kanawha County. For each school year in question, Mr. Moore submitted documentation of the number of students he taught per week, the number of hours he taught per week, and the number of days taught per year.

West Virginia Code 18A-4-1(1) provides, in pertinent part:

" ‘Years of experience' means the number of years the teacher has been employed in the teaching profession, including active work in educational positions other than the public schools . . ."

In interpreting this provision in Bright v. Tucker County Bd. of Educ., 399 S.E.2d 176, 184 W.Va. 33 (1990), the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals affirmed an opinion of the Attorney General which stated:

"with respect to previous employment in Head Start Programs . . . this office cannot categorically advise whether such employment is experience in the teaching profession. School administrators must make a factual analysis of such employment in each case." 18 Op. Att'y Gen. 68 (1980).

In reaching the decision in the Bright case, the Court further provided that the the factual analysis conducted by school administrators should seek to determine whether the previous nonpublic school employment substantially corresponds to one of the categories of "professional educator" set forth in West Virginia Code 18A-1-1. In the Bright case, this analysis included a consideration of whether the teacher in question had been assigned and performed the full range of responsibilities of a degreed teacher, such as the number of days worked, preparation of lesson plans, supervision of teachers aides and parent volunteers, etc.

The documentation provided fails to illuminate whether Mr. Moore's past employment meets this test. Should he wish for a different determination, Mr. Moore will need to provide additional information to the county for a year by year analysis of the employment.

Hoping that I have been of service, I am,



David Stewart
State Superintendent of Schools

cc: William H. Courtney, Kanawha County Schools Paul Moore

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