H. B. 2283
(By Delegates Prunty and Louisos)
[Introduced January 30, 1995; referred to the
Committee on Education then Finance.]
A BILL to amend and reenact section nine, article two, chapter
eighteen of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine
hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to requiring the
state board of education to implement a program to teach
religion in the public schools.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section nine, article two, chapter eighteen of the code
of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as
amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2. STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION.
§18-2-9. Required courses of instruction; violation and penalty.
(a) In all public, private, parochial and denominational schools located within this state there shall be given prior to
the completion of the eighth grade at least one year of
instruction in the history of the state of West Virginia. Such
schools shall require regular courses of instruction by the
completion of the twelfth grade in the history of the United
States, in civics, in the Constitution of the United States, and
in the government of the state of West Virginia for the purpose
of teaching, fostering and perpetuating the ideals, principles
and spirit of political and economic democracy in America and
increasing the knowledge of the organization and machinery of the
government of the United States and of the state of West
Virginia. The state board of education shall develop policies
and programs that encourage teaching about religious liberty and
religion in ways that are constitutionally permissible and
educationally sound. The state board of education shall take
(1) Acquaint school administrators, school boards and
teachers with policies pertaining to teaching about religion;
(2) Alert textbook publishers to the importance of the
treatment of religion and religious liberty in textbooks;
(3) Seek funding from the private sector for statewide staff development programs focused on helping teachers to teach about
religion and religious liberty;
(4) Inform teacher training institutions of the importance
of preservice education about religion for social studies
The state board of education shall, with the advice of the
state superintendent of schools, prescribe the courses of study
covering these subjects for the public schools. It shall be the
duty of the officials or boards having authority over the
respective private, parochial and denominational schools to
prescribe courses of study for the schools under their control
and supervision similar to those required for the public schools.
To further such study, every high school student eligible by age
for voter registration shall be afforded the opportunity to
register to vote pursuant to section twenty-two, article two,
chapter three of this code.
(b) The state board of education shall cause to be taught in
all of the public schools of this state the subject of health
education, including instruction in any of the grades six through
twelve as deemed appropriate by the county board, on (1) the
prevention, transmission and spread of acquired immune deficiency syndrome and other sexually transmitted diseases and (2)
substance abuse, including the nature of alcoholic drinks and
narcotics, tobacco products, and other potentially harmful drugs,
with special instruction as to their effect upon the human system
and upon society in general. The course curriculum requirements
and materials for such instruction shall be adopted by the state
board by rule in consultation with the department of health.
An opportunity shall be afforded to the parent or guardian
of a child subject to instruction in the prevention, transmission
and spread of acquired immune deficiency syndrome and other
sexually transmitted diseases to examine the course curriculum
requirements and materials to be used in such instruction. The
parent or guardian may exempt such child from participation in
such instruction by giving notice to that effect in writing to
the school principal.
(c) Any person violating the provisions of this section
shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof,
shall be fined not exceeding ten dollars for each violation, and
each week during which there is a violation shall constitute a
separate offense. If the person so convicted occupy a position
in connection with the public schools, that person shall automatically be removed from such position and shall be
ineligible for reappointment to that or a similar position for
the period of one year.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to require the state
Board of Education to develop and implement a religious education
program in the public schools.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken
from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language
that would be added.