WVEA announces plans to sue over passage of omnibus education bill

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – A West Virginia education union says it plans to sue the state over the passage of the omnibus education bill (House Bill 206).

The West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) on Tuesday notified Attorney General Patrick Morrisey with a letter of intent about a lawsuit regarding the passage of House Bill 206, better known as the omnibus education bill.

Passed in late June by both the House and the Senate, the bill includes a number of proposed changes to the education system, including pay raises, incentives to fill in-demand positions, and financial support for struggling counties. The bill also allows for the creation of charter schools. Click here for more.

The West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) on Tuesday notified Attorney General Patrick Morrisey with a letter of intent about the lawsuit. The state requires a 30-day notice prior to a lawsuit being filed.

WVEA President Dale Lee released the following statement:

“While we opposed this legislation on principle, 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. Those include: 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.

“WVEA’s legal team is still exploring other constitutional violations to include in the lawsuit.

“Since the state requires notice of a lawsuit we wanted to go ahead and get that timeframe started. It is our intent to file our lawsuit in Kanawha County Circuit Court as soon as possible.”

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, released the following statement about the pending lawsuit:

“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. 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.”

Gov. Jim Justice's office did not comment Wednesday, saying it's premature to comment on the lawsuit before it has been filed.