H. B. 2326
(By Delegates Mezzatesta, Williams,
Anderson and Ellem)
January 16, 2003
; referred to the
Committee on Education then Finance.]
A BILL to amend article twenty, chapter eighteen of the code of
West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as
amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated section
ten, relating to creating the "Better Sight for Better
Learning Act," relating to requiring eye examinations for
children prior to their enrollment in elementary school; state
board of education to promulgate criteria for carrying out the
act; and providing that department of education, the
department of health, together with others, to maintain a list
of resources to aid children needing vision examinations or
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That article twenty, chapter eighteen of the code of West
Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be
amended by adding thereto a new section, designated section ten, to
read as follows:
ARTICLE 20. EDUCATION OF EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN.
§18-20-10. An act to require eye examinations for elementary
Findings and purpose. The Legislature finds that vision plays
an important role in the education of children and that an
undetected and uncorrected vision impairment is a serious threat to
the educational success of a child, particularly when that
uncorrected impairment is protracted and occurs at a time when the
child is only beginning his or her formal learning experience.
Consequently, the educational failure of every child has a profound
impact on the economic well-being of our state and its people. For
the benefit of our children and the future of our state, all
children should be provided with an eye examination prior to
enrolling in elementary school.
(a) Each local board of education or similar body governing a
nonpublic school shall require that every individual in an
elementary school in this state receive a comprehensive vision
examination from a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist before
enrolling for the first time in an elementary school under its
jurisdiction. The parent or guardian of each child shall receive
prior written notice thereof and have a reasonable opportunity to
provide for the examination. A local board of education may deny
enrollment or continued attendance in a public elementary school to
any child who fails to obtain the eye examination required under this section.
(b) Prior to enrollment, each child shall present to school
health personnel a written certification by a licensed optometrist
or ophthalmologist chosen by the child's parents or guardian which
indicates the status of the child's vision, any pertinent
diagnosis, diagnosis, treatment, recommendations and any necessary
(c) The state board of education must promulgate criteria and
rules as may be necessary for meeting and enforcing the
requirements of this section.
(d) The department of education shall, in conjunction with the
department of health, compile and maintain a list of sources to
which children of families with limited means might refer for
examinations or vision corrections. The sources may include
individuals, federal, state and local governments and private
programs. The department of education shall ensure that the
superintendent of schools, the principal of each elementary school,
the school nurse or other person responsible for school health
services receives an updated copy of the list each year prior to
school opening. Professional and service organizations concerned
with vision health may assist in gathering and disseminating the
information at the direction of the department of education.
(e) This section will take effect on the first day of July,
two thousand three. Children enrolled prior to the enacting date are exempt from the provisions of this section.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to compel that a
professional eye examination be performed on the eyes of each child
in this state prior to enrollment in grade school.
This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.