One of the state’s education unions, the West Virginia Education Association, sent notification to Attorney General Patrick Morrissey of an intent to sue the state over the recent passage of an education reform bill.
The WVEA’s letter of intent is the required precursor to filing the actual lawsuit. The union’s president, Dale Lee, says there are many aspects of the bill that violate the state’s constitution.
“While we opposed this legislation on principle,” Lee said in a press release, “we have always held that HB 206, and all the previous versions of the Omnibus Education bill, violates the provisions of West Virginia’s Constitution. In our Intent to Sue notice we have listed what we believe are a number of constitutional violations.”
Lee listed some of the possible violations:
- the ‘single object’ provision of bills
- the ‘thorough and efficient’ public education requirement
- the establishing of new boards to govern charter schools
- the lack of voter approval for a number of things associated with charter schools
- and the ‘void of vagueness’ doctrine
Lee added that WVEA’s legal team is exploring other constitutional violations to include in the lawsuit, and that the organization intends to file the lawsuit in Kanawha County Circuit Court “as soon as possible.”
State Senate President Mitch Carmichael responded with a statement saying he was disheartened by what he called “obsessive hysteria” over allowing charter schools into the state:
“While we certainly respect the WVEA’s right to take its grievances with education reform to a court of law, I’m extremely disheartened by this action,” Carmichael wrote. “The WVEA is an organization that claims to represent the interests of teachers, yet it has now started a process that puts at risk millions of dollars directly to county school systems and a second consecutive year of 5-percent raises to teachers and service personnel. It’s sad that the obsessive hysteria over the possibility of an elected county board of education authorizing a charter school – two years from now – is enough to completely overshadow the benefits of House Bill 206. This bill gives West Virginia’s students, teachers, and parents a multitude of resources that are desperately needed and wanted, and they help lay a foundation for the kind of world-class education our children deserve. I’m not surprised by the attempt of these union bosses to derail the Legislature’s efforts to improve education, but I’m still very disappointed by it.”