Planning Periods

Every teacher is required by state law to receive at least one planning period each day and administration is not allowed to assign any responsibilities during this period. Any participation in trainings or meetings is at the discretion of the teacher and cannot be required. Here is the language used in the WV State Code:

§18A-4-14.

(b) Every teacher who is regularly employed for a period of time more than one half the class periods of the regular school day shall be provided at least one planning period within each school day to be used to complete necessary preparations for the instruction of pupils. No teacher may be assigned any responsibilities during this period, and no county shall increase the number of hours to be worked by a teacher as a result of such teacher being granted a planning period subsequent to the adoption of this section (March 13, 1982). Educators shall receive uninterrupted time for planning periods each day.  Administrators may not require a teacher to use the planning period time allotted to complete duties beyond instructional planning, including, but not limited to, administrative tasks and meetings.

Duty Free Lunch

As long as you work in a school building for more than half a day, either as a teacher or a service personnel, you are entitled to a full 30-minutes duty-free lunch. This time is separate, and in addition, to the time that is given as your planning period. Here is language used in the WV State Code:

§18A-4-14.

(a) Notwithstanding section seven, article two of this chapter, every teacher who is employed for a period of time more than one half the class periods of the regular school day and every service person whose employment is for a period of more than three and one-half hours per day and whose pay is at least the amount indicated in the state minimum pay scale as set forth in section eight-a of this article shall be provided a daily lunch recess of not less than thirty consecutive minutes, and the employee shall not be assigned any responsibilities during this recess. The recess shall be included in the number of hours worked, and no county shall increase the number of hours to be worked by an employee as a result of the employee being granted a recess under this section.

Class Sizes

This has been a problem throughout the county recently. Currently there are only restrictions on class sizes for grades Kindergarten through 6th. According to State Code, Kindergarten classes can have a maximum of 20 students and 1st through 6th grade a maximum of 25, however, the law provides each of those classroom can have an additional 3 students above the cap, if the teacher is given additional compensation. For teachers in grades 7-12 there is nothing in state law that limits the number of students, however, many classrooms are limited by the fire code, which depending on the size and number of doors into and out of the classroom is normally placed at 31 students. In the past teachers have reached out to BCEA about abnormally large class sizes, in excess of 31 students for core classes, and we have been able to reduce class sizes by bringing the issue to the attention of the Board Office.

§18-5-18a. Maximum teacher-pupil ratio.

(a) County boards of education shall provide sufficient personnel, equipment, and facilities as will ensure that each first through sixth grade classroom, or classrooms having two or more grades that include one or more of the first through sixth grades shall not have more than 25 pupils for each teacher of the grade or grades and shall not have more than 20 pupils for each kindergarten teacher per session, unless the state superintendent has excepted a specific classroom upon application therefor by a county board.

(e)
 The requirement for approval of an exception to exceed the 20 pupils per kindergarten teacher per session limit or the 25 pupils per teacher limit in grades one through six is waived in schools where the schoolwide pupil-teacher ratio is 25 or less in grades one through six: Provided, That a teacher shall not have more than three pupils above the teacher/pupil ratio as set forth in this section. Any kindergarten teacher who has more than 
20 pupils per session and any classroom teacher of grades one through six who has more than 25 pupils, shall be paid additional compensation based on the affected classroom teacher’s average daily salary divided by 20 for kindergarten teachers, or 25 for teachers of grades one through six, for every day times the number of additional pupils enrolled up to the maximum pupils permitted in the teacher’s classroom. All such additional compensation shall be paid from county funds exclusively.

Dress Code

While there is nothing in state code in regards to a dress code policy there is one case where teachers won a grievance over the dress code. In Lewis County multiple teachers filed a grievance against the county’s dress code policy for teachers after the Board of Education attempted to reprimand them for wearing jeans in violation of the employee dress code. The WV Public Grievance Board agreed with the teachers in the grievance finding that the dress code failed to meet the rational basis test. In particular one of the teachers pointed out that they “found it ironic that they were trusted with the education of students, but could not be trusted to determine what was appropriate clothing.”

Special Education Ratio

Policy 2419 provides state regulations for the education of students with exceptionalities. According to this policy 50% or less of a co-taught class in the core subjects should consists of students with an IEP, and only 30% of an integrated classroom, in other words one in which a co-teacher is not present. The policy is quoted below and the link to the full policy is provided.

All WV Pre-K classrooms (including special education) should to the extent practicable reflect the natural proportions of students with disabilities to those without disabilities within the school or community, but with no more than ten students with disabilities per session. Pre-K classrooms are limited to no more than twenty students per session. Pre-K special education classrooms require at least one aide regardless of the number of students being served. The provision of additional support staff is determined based on student needs and the IEP. The teacher-child ratios for Policy 2419 and 2525 are maximum requirements. This means a local board of education may enroll a smaller number of children in the classroom, if needed. Additionally, all Universal Pre-K classrooms (including special education) must provide a minimum of thirty-five square feet per child of usable indoor space for daily program activities. This requirement may limit the number of children per classroom.

Integrated classrooms – Integration occurs in general education when students with exceptional needs are provided required accommodations (supplementary aids and services). Students with exceptionalities whose individualized education programs require an adjustment in either instruction or service to be provided by the general classroom teacher must approximate natural proportions. When integrated classrooms are established in the four core academic subjects, i.e. English/language arts, science, social studies and math special education students requiring
accommodations must not exceed 30% of the total class enrollment.

Co-Taught classrooms – Co-teaching is defined as two or more professionals delivering substantive instruction to a diverse or blended group of students in a single physical space. For co-taught classrooms where instructional responsibilities are shared between the special and general educator, special education students requiring specially
designed instruction (special education) must not exceed 50% of the total class enrollment. The special educator should not be assigned to more than one co-teaching classroom during one instructional block. Special education classrooms for students with disabilities – Students may receive special education services in special education environments. Special education staffing per instructional period is based on the student’s level of need without regard to the area of disability.

Policy 2419, page 68