CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Board of Education on Wednesday removed restrictions from state policy that had prevented teachers from being involved in their school's hiring process during the summer months -- but some say it's too little, too late for this year.
The board's amendments allow faculty senates to meet before school starts in August to help with teacher selections and determine a process for hiring alongside school administrators -- part of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's call for more local control in his education reform law passed this spring.
Now, teachers are being given the go-ahead in the middle of summer -- when the most hiring occurs -- even though they were promised the opportunity to be involved in the hiring process back in March, when the bill first passed.
"I think the board is a day late and a dollar short. As soon as the bill was passed, they should've started getting their ducks in a row," said Kym Randolph, communications director for the West Virginia Education Association teachers union.
This means, if teachers want to be included in the hiring process as soon as possible, they have to announce plans for a meeting two days ahead of time and have at least half of the school's teachers present in order to begin talks of establishing a new process. Some districts in the state begin school in early August, and summer is a difficult time to round teachers up, Randolph said.
"Let's be honest, by the time the policy gets communicated to faculty senates, school will have already started," she said. "For a school with a large staff, it would be a real challenge to try to give input on a hiring process in time. A lot of schools are doing most of their hiring this week and next week."
As part of the education reform bill, the state school board was required to establish a hiring rule for teachers by July 1. At last month's meeting, held June 12, the board was accused of rushing to compile the policy in time to make deadline and not allowing enough time for public comment.
The policy update, unanimously passed by the board in an emergency meeting Wednesday, came in response to backlash from teachers unions that said the original bill created roadblocks for teachers who wanted to participate in any hiring occurring before the commencement of the school year.