CHARLESTON, W.VA. – The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) heard an update on school safety procedures during their June meeting in Charleston. The briefing, on the heels of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, highlighted the collaborative relationship between the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE), the West Virginia Office of Homeland Security and the West Virginia Fusion Center in the ongoing efforts to keep schools safe in West Virginia.
W.Va. Code §18-9F-9 requires that every school in the state establish an up-to-date, school-specific crisis response plan. These plans outline the coordinated emergency procedures to be followed in crisis situations. Additionally, each public school is required to hold active shooter trainings for staff and students as part of their annual scheduled drills.
“We have been touched by the recent events in Uvalde and have been mindful of the resounding pain in that community,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “Unfortunately, it is a reminder that we must all stay vigilant. Gone are the days when response plans are shoved in a binder and set on a shelf. They have to be designed, communicated, shared and practiced.”
WVBE President Miller Hall called for action and preparedness on behalf of the WVDE and the local schools. Emergency response plans are now a part of the state’s annual accountability system and must be uploaded to the Office of Homeland Security’s online portal by August 1, 2022. This will ensure plans are updated and filed consistently.
“We know we must be continually vigilant while guarding against complacency to protect students in our schools,” said President Hall. “These unfortunate events remind us that preparation is an important and essential part of school operations.”
Safe schools information and resources are available on the WVDE website as well as on the national Safe Schools Clearinghouse website.
In other WVBE news, board members approved the 12-month update of the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (WVSDB) Special Circumstance Review. The Board directed the Office of Support and Accountability to conduct a follow-up of the school to obtain specific information regarding progress it has made in addressing areas of noncompliance found in 2021.
Improvements were noted in areas of collaboration, response to student mental health needs and the residential environment, while continued work between residential and instructional staff and with the WVDE Technical Assistance Center for Accessibility and Transitions were recommended next steps.
The WVBE also recognized several students for achievements in a variety of areas. These include:
Golden Horseshoe Sword Smithing Contest Winners Avery Nine and Jillian Eicher (designers, Musselman High School) and (welders from James Rumsey Technical Institute) Gabriel Eller, Mason Nelson, Logan Pittsnogle, Jasper Edens and Carter Jones. Donna Van Metre, principal; Kyle Albright, CTE instructor; and Melissa Burton, Chair of Creative Arts, were also recognized.
2022 REC Foundation Aerial Drones Competition World Champions representing Lincoln County middle schools (students) Grayson McComas, Reed Roberts and Jack Shull, along with Kim Browning (instructor).
2022 History Bowl winners and participants from Sherrod Middle School in Marshall County were also in attendance. The program is hosted by the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History. Tessa Burke, Josh Elias, Avery Etzel, Joelle Ganchoff, Grace Gatts (2020 winning team), Morgan Messner, Nia Miller, Jasper Murrin, Savannah Potts, Lila Roman, Lilly Roman (2020 winning team) and Dan Gatts (coach/instructor).
Finally, the WVBE placed several policies on public comment for 30 days. These may be reviewed on the WVDE website.
Policy 1461 is being amended to implement a directive to the WVBE in the Medical Cannabis Act to promulgate rules to address the possession and use of medical cannabis by an employee of a preschool, primary school, and a secondary school on the grounds of such school.
Policy 2422 is being amended to implement a directive to the WVBE in the Medical Cannabis Act to promulgate rules to address the possession and use of medical cannabis by a student on the grounds of a preschool, primary school and secondary school.
Policy 2422.2 is being repealed and replaced to add new legislation regarding restricted licensing. Due to new legislation, Policy 4150, Student Driver Eligibility Certificate, is now obsolete and recommended for repeal.
Policy 2525 is being amended to correct an omission from the policy that was placed on comment and inadvertently deleted before adoption.
Documents presented to the Board can be found on the WVDE website.
The next regularly scheduled WVBE meeting is 9:00 a.m., Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in Building 6, Room 600, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Charleston, West Virginia.
For media inquiries, contact Christy Day, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications, at 304-558-2699 or Christy.Day@k12.wv.us.