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DISCIPLINE – AUTHORITY
- Who has the overall discipline authority in schools?
County Board: Each county board is responsible for the administration of proper discipline in the school and is required to adopt policies governing disciplinary actions. W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1(f) and W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1a(n).
Principals: Principals (i.e., principal, assistant principal, vice principal or the administrative head of the school) may exercise authority and perform duties to discipline students consistent with state and federal law and the policies of the State Department of Education. W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1a(m).
The Student Code of Conduct (Policy 4373) issued by the West Virginia Department of Education contains additional information regarding disciplinary authority and actions, available online at: http://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/p4373.pdf . (Note: this policy is currently under review and is intended to be revised or replaced effective July 1, 2012.)
- What type of discipline is permitted?
In general, disciplinary actions range from admonition to mandatory expulsion, and may include such actions as:
- admonition and counseling
- parent/student conference
- modification of student classroom assignment or schedule
- student behavior contract
- after-school or in-school detention
- suspension of student privileges for a specified period
- removal from class, suspension and expulsion W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1.
- When can a teacher remove a student from class?
Teachers have initial authority to exclude from a classroom or school bus any person who is:
- guilty of disorderly conduct
- interferes with an orderly education process
- intimidates or attempts to intimidate a school employee or a student
- willfully disobeys a school employee
- uses abusive or profane language directed at a school employee W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1(c)
The principal is responsible for any excluded student. The student may be readmitted to the classroom or school bus if the principal provides written certification to the teacher that the student may be readmitted and specifies the type of disciplinary action, if any, taken. If disciplinary action is warranted, the principal provides written, and when possible telephonic, notice of the action to the student’s parents, custodians, or guardians. W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1(c).
If a student is excluded two times in one semester, and after exercising all reasonable methods of classroom discipline in the school discipline plan, the student may be readmitted – but only after the principal, teacher, and parents, custodians, or guardians have a conference to discuss the student’s disruptive behavior and the teacher and the principal agree on the course of discipline and inform the parents of the course of action. If the student’s disruptive behavior continues, the principal may transfer the student to another setting such as an alternative learning center. W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1(c).
- Under what circumstances can a student be suspended?
West Virginia law permits schools to suspend and expel students for any violation of the Student Code of Conduct defined by count board policy, but a student may not be suspended for failure to attend. W. Va. Code §18A-5-1(d). The West Virginia Department of Education Student Code of Conduct defines four levels of violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
- Level I Violations include: anti-social conduct, cheating/academic misconduct, disorderly conduct, improper operation of a motor vehicle, inappropriate displays of affection, inappropriate dress and grooming, leaving school without permission, possession of inappropriate personal property, tardiness, technology abuse, tobacco, trespassing, and truancy. W. Va. Code R. § 126-99-7.
- Level II Violations include: bullying/harassment/intimidation, failure to serve assigned detention, false identification, forgery, fraud, gambling, gang activity, insubordination/unruly conduct, loitering, and theft or possession of stolen property. W. Va. Code R. § 126-99-7.
- Level III Violations include: alcohol, defacing school property, disobeying a teacher in a willful manner, hazing, improper or negligent operation of a motor vehicle, marijuana, physical altercation, profane language, theft, threat of injury or injury, and habitual violation of school rules or policies. W. Va. Code R. § 126-99-7.
- Level IV Violations include: battery on a school employee, commission of a felony, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a firearm or deadly weapon, and sale of a narcotic drug. W. Va. Code R. § 126-99-7.
Although the overwhelming majority of suspensions and expulsions result from acts at school or school-sponsored activities, the county school board’s authority to establish standards for the proper discipline of students also applies to conduct while going to and returning from school. W. Va. Code §18A-5-1(a). In addition, a student may be suspended or expelled for committing acts or engaging in conduct that would constitute a felony if committed by an adult. W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1a(b).
- What are the types of suspension and the processes for each?
West Virginia state law does not reference procedures for disciplinary action less than suspension or expulsion. However, as discussed above, the West Virginia Department of Education Student Code of Conduct (Policy 4373) lists in-school suspension as a disciplinary action. W. Va. Code R. § 126-99-1.
According to the West Virginia Department of Education Student Code of Conduct (Policy 4373), the length of suspension should be short, usually one to three days, but may be as long as ten days. W. Va. Code R. § 126-99-8.
For suspensions of ten days or less:
- The student is entitled to an informal hearing.
- The student and his or her parents shall be notified of the hearing by telephone.
- At the informal hearing, the principal explains why the student is being suspended and asks the student if he or she admits to the charges. If the student denies the charges, the student is given the opportunity to give reasons why he or she should not be suspended.
- The principal must notify the parents by mail of the suspension.
W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1a(d), W. Va. Code R. § 126-99-8.
For suspensions of more than ten days:
- There must be a formal hearing before the county board of education.
- The process for imposing a long-term suspension (more than ten but less than 365 days) specified in the local school board code of conduct must provide for the student to be told of the charges, and if the student denies them, to be given an explanation of the facts as known to the school and an opportunity to present his or her version of what occurred.
- A long-term suspension is usually imposed by a disciplinary hearing officer upon recommendation of a principal.
W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1a(d), W. Va. Code R. § 126-99-8.
- Under what circumstances can a student be expelled?
The county school board policies specify standards for expulsion of students. Expulsion is required for certain weapons-and drug-related violations (specified in W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1a). The principal may recommend to the superintendent that the county school board expel a student if the student’s conduct is judged to be detrimental to the progress and general conduct of the school. W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1a, W. Va. Code R. § 126-99-8.
- What is the Procedure for Expulsion?
Hearing: If a student is recommended for expulsion, the student is entitled to a hearing before the county school board. W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1, W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1a, W. Va. Code R. § 126-99-8.
Written Notification: The student and parent must be given written notice of the proposed expulsion, which shall include the reasons the expulsion is being proposed. The notice shall also state whether the county school board will attempt at hearing to establish the student as a dangerous student and shall include any evidence upon which the Board will rely in asserting its claim that the student is dangerous. The notice should also include the date and time of the hearing, which should take place during the ten day period of suspension imposed by the principal. W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1, W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1a, W. Va. Code R. § 126-99-8.
The student may be represented by counsel, may call his or her own witnesses, and may confront and cross-examine any witnesses supporting the charge against the student. W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1, W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1a, W. Va. Code R. § 126-99-8.
- What is the process to appeal suspension or expulsion?
A finding of a Level I violation may be appealed to principal or school administrator. The appeal must be made on the designated form. The Level I administrator will issue a written decision within ten days after receipt of the appeal. When the decision is not in favor of the student(s), a copy of the Level II appeal form shall be included with the decision. W. Va. Code R. § 126-188-4.1.
Within fifteen days of receiving the decision of the Level I administrator, a student or parent may appeal the decision in writing on the prescribed form to the county superintendent of schools. The superintendent or his/her designee shall, within ten days, have a conference with the student(s) and/or parent(s) in an attempt to resolve the appeal. The superintendent or his/her designee shall issue a written decision within ten days following this conference. When the decision is not in favor of the student, a copy of the Level III appeal form shall be included with the decision. W. Va. Code R. § 126-188-4.2.
Within fifteen days of receiving the decision of the county superintendent, the student or parent may appeal the decision in writing on the prescribed form to the county board of education. The appeal shall be transmitted to the county superintendent who shall, within three days, provide a copy to each member of the county board of education.
The county board of education will conduct a hearing on the appeal if requested by the student or parent, or if the board itself determines that a hearing should be held. For an appeals hearing held before a county board of education, the usual and customary procedures for administrative hearing will prevail, including proper notice of the hearing, the opportunity to be represented by counsel, the opportunity to present evidence and testimony, the opportunity to call witnesses and the opportunity to cross-examine adverse witnesses. A court reporter may be provided by either party. When a hearing is held, the decision of the county board of education will be by majority vote of those members participating in the hearing and shall rest solely upon the evidence properly presented at the hearing. The county board of education will render its decision within 25 days following receipt of the Level III appeal. The board may affirm, modify, or reverse the Level II decision and require such remedial action as it deems necessary. When the decision is not in favor of the student, a copy of the Level IV appeal form shall be included with the decision. W. Va. Code R. § 126-188-4.3.
If a student or parent is not satisfied with the decision of the county board of education, the decision may be appealed to the state superintendent of schools within 30 days of receiving the decision of the county board of education. A copy of the Level IV appeal and any supporting documents shall, at the same time, be transmitted to the county superintendent of schools. At the request of either party, the state superintendent will appoint an impartial review officer to conduct a hearing. Both the student (or parent) and representatives of the county board of education shall be permitted to appear before the impartial review officer.
The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the usual and customary rules governing administrative hearings and shall be held at a place designated by the impartial review officer. Upon agreement of the parties, the impartial review officer may visit the county to secure additional facts and information related to the appeal. The decision of the impartial review officer will be issued within 30 days of receipt of the appeal and shall be final unless altered or set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction. The decision of the impartial review officer may be appealed to the appropriate court or review may be sought by original proceeding. W. Va. Code R. § 126-188-4.4.
The appeal forms are available online at: http://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/p7211forms.pdf
- What is the process to petition for readmission to school?
The laws of West Virginia do not address this.
ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES
- What does “zero tolerance” mean?
Zero tolerance of a behavior by a school generally means that the school’s response is pre-determined and required and includes severe consequences or punishment (most often suspension or expulsion) for a specific offense.
Although not a “true” zero tolerance policy, West Virginia law does require expulsion for a minimum of one year for possession of a deadly weapon, battery of a school employee, or sale of a narcotic drug. W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1a, W. Va. Code R. § 126-99-8. However, this expulsion requirement may be modified by the superintendent on a case-by-case basis. W. Va. Code §18A-5-1(i).
- Is corporal punishment at schools permitted?
No. West Virginia law states: “Corporal punishment of any student by a school employee is prohibited.” W. Va. Code § 18A-5-1(e).
- Is there a state policy on bullying?
In West Virginia, each county school board must establish a policy prohibit bullying that includes, at a minimum, the following:
- A statement prohibiting harassment, intimidation, or bullying;
- A definition of harassment, intimidation, or bullying; and
- Reporting, documentation and notification requirements. W. Va. Code §18-2C-3.
At a minimum, harassment, intimidation or bullying means any intentional gesture, or any intentional written, verbal or physical act or threat that:
- A reasonable person would know would have the effect of harming a student, damaging a student’s property, placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or damage to his or her property; or
- Is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive to create an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student. W. Va. Code §18A-2C-2.
- Is there a state policy on hazing?
West Virginia law requires the State Board of Education to promulgate rules that address hazing in the public schools. W. Va. Code § 18-2-33. West Virginia Department of Education Student Code of Conduct (Policy 4373) lists hazing as a Level III Violation.
Hazing means to cause any action or situation for the purpose of initiation, admission into, or continued membership in any organization or activity that either:
- recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of another person
- destroys or removes public or private property W. Va. Code R. § 126-99-7.
- Are there dress code requirements for schools?
In West Virginia, the county school board may adopt reasonable dress codes. W. Va. Code §18-2-35.
The West Virginia Department of Education has a policy on school uniforms providing the procedures a county school board must follow in implementing a dress code.
W. Va. Code R. § 126-100-1, available online at: http://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/p4374.pdf
- Can school uniforms be required?
Yes. Under West Virginia law, local school boards may require students to wear a school wide uniform, consistent with guidelines established by the West Virginia Board of Education.
W. Va. Code § 18-2-35; W. Va. Code R. § 126-100-1.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS (ELL)
- Who is considered an ELL?
An English language learner (ELL), known as a Limited English Proficient (“LEP”) student in West Virginia, is a student who is:
- Age 3 – 21 and enrolled or preparing to enroll in an elementary or secondary school; not born in the U.S. or whose native language is a language other than English, or is Native American or Alaska Native, who comes from an environment language other than English where another language has had a significant impact on the individual’s level of English proficiency; or who is migratory, whose native language is other than English and who comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant.
- Whose difficulties speaking, reading, writing, or understanding English may deny the individual: the ability to a proficiency level on the state assessments; the ability to be successful in the classroom; and the opportunity to participate in full society. W. Va. Code R. § 126-15-2.
Each county is obligated to identify all LEP students within 30 days of enrollment. W. Va. Code R. § 126-15-3.
LEP students may also be eligible for special education. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 (c) (1994), amended by 20 U.S.C. § 1400(d)(1)(A) (Supp. III 1997), and the Regulations for the Education of Students with Exceptionalities, W. Va. Code R. § 126-16-1, assure that a free appropriate public education is provided to all students eligible for special education and related services.
Most school districts receive federal education funds, and must meet the requirements of Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (“ESEA”), 20 U.S.C. 6301 et. seq. In these schools, parents or guardians must be informed of the reasons for their student’s identification as an LEP, and of the need for placement in the specified program, within 30 days of the beginning of school or two weeks within placement in a language instruction program.
For English learners with an individual educational program (IEP), the school must also notify and explain to the parents or guardians how the recommended placement will help their children meet the objectives of the IEP.
For more information, see the West Virginia Department of Education’s Guidelines for the Identification of LEP Students, available online at:
- What is the assessment test used for ELL? What are the procedures for the test?
Assessment for Placement
- Each county’s enrollment forms must include pertinent Home Language Survey questions that initiate the identification process. When a student with a native language, home language, or primary language other than English enrolls in school, the county’s ESL teacher (or designee) will administer an initial screening using the Woodcock Munoz Language Survey to determine the student’s level of English language proficiency. Based on the results of the screening, the student will be determined to be either fully proficient in English (level 5) or LEP (levels 1-4). Students with LEP are eligible for ESL services. W. Va. Code R. § 126-15-3.
- The amount/frequency of ESL services will be based on the student’s proficiency level and county guidelines. W. Va. Code R. § 126-15-3.
- Within 30 days of the student’s enrollment, the ESL teacher will notify the parent in writing of the student’s eligibility to participate, the type, and amount of ESL services. Parental consent is not required to receive program services. However, parents may refuse ESL services for their child. See West Virginia Department of Education’s Guidelines for the Identification of LEP Students at: http://wvconnections.k12.wv.us/documents/GuidelinesfortheIdentificationofLEPStudents_002.doc
Assessment for Progress
- All LEP students are required to participate in the West Virginia Educational Standards Test (WESTEST) 2 in Mathematics, Reading/Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies or Alternative Program Task Assessment (APTA) in the grade level in which they are enrolled. The LEP Committee will determine the appropriate accommodations, if any. W. Va. Code R. § 126-14-4.2.
- Each county shall annually assess LEP students’ English language proficiency using the West Virginia Test of English Language Learning (WESTELL) during the testing window established by the West Virginia Department of Education. W. Va. Code R. § 126-15-3.
- All LEP students enrolled in grade 8, except those meeting the criteria for APTA, will participate in ACT EXPLORE. W. Va. Code R. § 126-14-4.4. ACT EXPLORE is a norm-referenced test that generates English, mathematics, reading, and science scores for West Virginia eighth graders. W. Va. Code R. § 126-14-3.2.
- All LEP students enrolled in grade 10, except those meeting the criteria for APTA, will participate in ACT PLAN. W. Va. Code R. § 126-14-4.4. ACT PLAN is a norm-referenced test that generates English, mathematics, reading, and science scores for West Virginia tenth graders. W. Va. Code R. § 126-14-3.3.
Assessment for Exiting LEP Status
A student achieves English Language Proficiency (ELP) if the student:
- no longer meets the definition of LEP;
- no longer participates in alternative language programs nor receives monitoring services;
- scores above level five on the WESTELL for two consecutive years or tests proficient for two consecutive years on the Alternate Assessment;
- scores at mastery level or above on the WESTEST, Reading Language Arts Assessment (grades 3-8 and 10) or Reading Language Arts end of course exams (grades 9 and 11); or student scores at mastery level or above on the Alternate Assessment. W. Va. Code R. § 126-15-2.
- Students who have exited LEP students are monitored for two years and are allowed the use of accommodations on state assessments during the two-year monitoring period.
- What instructional programs are available for ELLs?
West Virginia does not have an established ESL curriculum. See Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in West Virginia, WVABE Professional Development Program, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Adult Education and Workforce Development, Page 12, http://wvde.state.wv.us/abe/tcher_handbook_pdf/section14.pdf
Teachers at local schools are responsible for developing a scope and sequence and for selecting the specific content and learning activities that will lead students to a high level of language proficiency. W. Va. Code R. § 126-15-1. West Virginia has a list of Essential Instructional Goals and Objectives (IGOs) for this process. See West Virginia Instructional Goals and Objectives (IGOs), WVABE Instructor Handbook Section 6, http://wvde.state.wv.us/abe/documents/Section6WVIGOsFY09_000.pdf
- Helpful documents or links
Programs of Study for Limited English Proficient Students, West Virginia Department of Education http://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/p2417.pdf
West Virginia Guidelines for Participation in State Assessments http://wvconnections.k12.wv.us/documents/ParticipationGuidelinesSeptember212009FINAL.pdf
Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in West Virginia, WVABE Professional Development Program, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Adult Education and Workforce Development
West Virginia Instructional Goals and Objectives (IGOs), WVABE Instructor Handbook Section 6 http://wvde.state.wv.us/abe/documents/Section6WVIGOsFY09_000.pdf
ABILITY GROUPING FOR LEARNING PURPOSES
- Does the state have any state policy on ability grouping?
West Virginia requires an active search by state and local education agencies for individuals with disabilities ages birth through 21, gifted individuals from 1st through 8th grades, and exceptionally gifted from 9th through 12th grades. W. Va. Code § 18-20-1, W. Va. Code R. § 126-16-1; see also West Virginia Department of Education Policy 2419, “Regulations for the Education of Students with Exceptionalities”, available online at: http://wvde.state.wv.us/osp/Policy2419-Jan-11-2010-w-cover.pdf
- Does the state guarantee students access to any specific classes or quality of classes (i.e., such as college prep, etc.)?
- Does the state require schools to have Gifted & Talented programs? Are there any admission requirements?
West Virginia requires every county school board to provide gifted education to exceptional children, including those identified as gifted in grades one through eight and exceptional gifted in grades nine through twelve. W. Va. Code § 18-20-1.
The West Virginia Department of Education has issued Regulations for the Education of Students with Exceptionalities (Policy 2419), which provides for the identification of exceptional children, the development of an individualized education plan (IEP) for such children, and specialized instruction delivered through a full continuum of differentiated curricular options, instructional approaches and resource materials.
Policy 2419, available online at: http://wvde.state.wv.us/osp/Policy2419-Jan-11-2010-w-cover.pdf; see also W. Va. Code R. § 126-16-2.
- Common Core Standards
West Virginia has approved the Common Core State Standards for English and mathematics and is working on aligning the common core with West Virginia’s existing curriculum standards and objectives and resources.
More information is available at the following website: West Virginia Department of Education, “Common Core Standards”, http://wvde.state.wv.us/commoncore/
- Helpful documents or links
West Virginia Department of Education, Assuring the Quality of Education: Regulations for Education Programs (Policy 2510), available online at http://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/p2510.pdf
West Virginia Department of Education, “County Graduation Requirements”, http://wvde.state.wv.us/institutional/CountyGradRequire.html
STATE PARENT INFORMATION RESOURCE CENTERS
West Virginia has several Parent Information and Resource Centers, which help implement successful and effective parental involvement policies and programs and activities that lead to improvements in student academic achievement. They target specific communities and provide a variety of services.
- Contact Information
1. West Virginia Department of Education
West Virginia Department of Education
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East,
Charleston, WV 25305
A good starting point for obtaining information from the West Virginia Department of Education is at: http://wvde.state.wv.us/parents21/
2. West Virginia Parent Training and Information, Inc. (WVPTI)
Phone: (800) 281-1436
TDD: (304) 624-1436
The West Virginia Parent Training and Information, Inc. (WVPTI) is a non-profit agency that operates the West Virginia Parent Training and Information Center. The U.S. Department of Education funds Parent Information Resource Centers in every state to improve children’s school success by supporting effective parental involvement policies, programs, and activities; developing and strengthening partnerships among parents, teachers, principals, administrators and other personnel; and coordinating their PIRC activities with other parental involvement initiatives under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and teaching parents of young children.
3. West Virginia Parent Educator Resource Centers (PERCs)
West Virginia Department of Education
Office of Special Programs
Building 6, Rm 304
1900 Kanawha Blvd
Charleston, WV 25305
This website provides links to regional PERCs operated by county throughout West Virginia. West Virginia’s PERCs vary in the types of services they offer. PERCs typically provide:
- Direct assistance to parents/guardians: listening, problem-solving, providing resources;
- Information sessions for parents, school staff, and community promoting parent/professional partnerships; and
- Additional services based upon the needs of parents and the services available in the community. These additional services may include:
- Providing initial contact with parents when their child is identified as needing special education services;
- Organizing and/or facilitating parent-to-parent support groups;
- Publishing a newsletter;
- Establishing a lending library; or
- Serving on an interagency committee or council.
4. Office for Civil Rights
Region III – Philadelphia (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia)
Paul Cushing, Regional Manager
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
150 S. Independence Mall West, Suite 372, Public Ledger Building
Philadelphia, PA 19106-9111
Main Line (215)861-4441
Hotline (800) 368-1019
The Office for Civil Rights enforces several Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education.