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Chapter 18     Entire Code
‹ Chapter 17G  |  Chapter 18A › Printer Friendly Versions
Chapter 18  |  Article 18 - 5B  |  Section 10

1 - DEFINITIONS; LIMITATIONS OF CHA

2 - STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

2A - ADOPTION OF TEXTBOOKS, INSTRUC

2B - AREA VOCATIONAL PROGRAM

2C - HARASSMENT, INTIMIDATION OR BU

2D - COMMUNITY EDUCATION

2E - HIGH QUALITY EDUCATIONAL PROGR

2F - INCENTIVES AND RESULTS BASED S

2G - SCHOOL LIBRARY MEDIA IMPROVEME

2H - PUBLIC NOTICE AND PARTICIPATIO

2I - STAFF DEVELOPMENT COUNCILS

2J - PUBLIC AND HIGHER EDUCATION UN

2K - THE DIABETES CARE PLAN ACT

3 - STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS

4 - COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOL

5 - COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION

5A - LOCAL SCHOOL INVOLVEMENT

5C - COMMITTEE REORGANIZATION AND C

5D - West Virginia Feed to Achieve

6 - DRIVER EDUCATION

7 - ADULT LITERACY EDUCATION PROGRA

7A - STATE TEACHERS RETIREMENT SYST

7B - TEACHERS' DEFINED CONTRIBUTION

7C - MERGER OF TEACHERS' DEFINED CO

7D - VOLUNTARY TRANSFER FROM TEACHE

8 - COMPULSORY SCHOOL ATTENDANCE

8A - ATTENDANCE OF HOMELESS CHILDRE

9 - SCHOOL FINANCES

9A - PUBLIC SCHOOL SUPPORT

9B - STATE BOARD OF SCHOOL FINANCE

9C - STATE AID FOR CONSTRUCTION

9D - SCHOOL BUILDING AUTHORITY

9E - AIR QUALITY IN NEW SCHOOLS ACT

9F - SCHOOL ACCESS SAFETY ACT

10 - FEDERAL AID AND GIFTS FOR EDU

10A - REHABILITATION SERVICES

10B - VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION FA

10C - THE SOUTHERN REGIONAL EDUCAT

10D - COMPACT FOR EDUCATION

10E - INTERSTATE COMPACT ON QUALIF

10F - DISABLED PERSONS AND PUBLIC

10F - INTERSTATE COMPACT ON EDUCAT

10G - PROVIDING OF FOOD SERVICE IN

10H - ALBERT YANNI PROGRAMS OF EXC

10I - WEST VIRGINIA SUPPORTED EMPL

10J - BLIND PERSONS' LITERACY RIGH

10K - WEST VIRGINIA TRAUMATIC BRAI

10L - RON YOST PERSONAL ASSISTANCE

10M - WEST VIRGINIA INDEPENDENT LI

10N - INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ACCES

10O - DISABILITY HISTORY WEEK

11 - WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY

11A - REVENUE BONDS FOR UNIVERSITY

11B - REVENUE BONDS FOR UNIVERSITY

11C - WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY HOS

11D - REVENUE BONDS FOR WEST VIRGI

11E - REVENUE BONDS FOR MARSHALL U

12 - STATE TEACHERS' COLLEGES

12A - REVENUE BONDS FOR MARSHALL U

12B - REVENUE BONDS FOR STATE INST

13 - West Virginia EDGE

13 - WEST VIRGINIA STATE COLLEGE

14 - BLUEFIELD STATE COLLEGE

15 - WEST VIRGINIA INSTITUTE OF TE

16 - ANTIHAZING LAW

17 - WEST VIRGINIA SCHOOLS FOR THE

18 - WEST VIRGINIA SCHOOL FOR THE

19 - EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR

20 - EDUCATION OF EXCEPTIONAL CHIL

21 - SPECIAL COMMUNITY-BASED PILOT

21 - UNDERWOOD-SMITH TEACHER SCHOL

22 - HIGHER EDUCATION FULL-TIME FA

22A - EMINENT SCHOLARS ENDOWMENT T

22B - STATE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

22C - STATE AID FOR STUDENTS ATTEN

22D - HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENT ASS

22E - DISTINGUISHED PROFESSORS END

23 - ADDITIONAL POWERS, DUTIES AND

24 - FEES AND OTHER MONEY COLLECTE

25 - TAX DEFERRED INVESTMENTS FOR

26 - WEST VIRGINIA BOARD OF REGENT

26A - STATE AUTISM TRAINING CENTER

26B - CLASSIFIED EMPLOYEE SALARY S

26C - INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS

26D - INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL

27 - WEST VIRGINIA EDUCATION LOAN

28 - PRIVATE, PAROCHIAL OR CHURCH

29 - GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE

30 - WEST VIRGINIA COLLEGE PREPAID

31 - RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AGRE

32 - SEVERABILITY

WVC 18- CHAPTER 18. EDUCATION.
WVC 18 - 5 B- ARTICLE 5B. SCHOOL INNOVATION ZONES ACT.
WVC 18 - 5 B- 1 §18-5B-1. Title.
This article shall be known as the "School Innovation Zones Act".

WVC 18 - 5 B- 2 §18-5B-2. Legislative findings and purpose.
(a) Legislative findings. -- The Legislature finds that:

(1) Decades of school improvement literature substantiate that schools where the principal uses a collaborative and distributed approach to leadership and where the teachers have a unity of purpose, operate in a cohesive learning-centered culture and implement consistent, pervasive and research-based approaches to learning, can and do improve student learning;

(2) As in all enterprises, rules are established in public education to manage the resources efficiently, allot time among the activities and processes required and ensure attention to the goals mandated, but rules, by their nature, also limit the flexibility of professional educators to engage in those activities and implement those approaches that may best improve the learning of their students for the twenty-first century;

(3) Allowing individual schools to seek and receive exceptions from certain statutes, policies, rules and interpretations through the creation of school innovation zones will provide them greater control over important educational factors that impact student achievement, such as curriculum, personnel, organization of the school day, organization of the school year, technology utilization and the delivery of educational services to improve student learning; and

(4) Providing greater flexibility at innovation zone schools will enable school-level, professional educators to exercise more fully their professional judgment to improve student learning for the twenty-first century by instituting creative and innovative practices.

(b) Intent and purpose. -- The intent and purpose of this article is to:

(1) Provide for the establishment of school innovation zones to improve educational performance;

(2) Provide principals and teachers at schools approved as innovation zones with greater flexibility and control to meet the needs of a diverse population of students by removing certain policy, rule, interpretive and statutory constraints;

(3) Provide a testing ground for innovative educational reform programs and initiatives to be applied on an individual school level;

(4) Provide information regarding the effects of specific innovations and policies on student achievement;

(5) Document educational strategies that enhance student success; and

(6) Increase the accountability of the state's public schools for student achievement as measured by the state assessment programs and local assessment processes identified by the schools.

WVC 18 - 5 B- 3 §18-5B-3. School innovation zones; application for designation; state board rule.

     (a) A school, a group of schools, a subdivision or department of a group of schools, or a subdivision or department of a school may be designated as an innovation zone in accordance with this article.

     (b) The state board shall promulgate a rule, including an emergency rule if necessary, in accordance with article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code to implement the provisions of this article. The rule shall include provisions for at least the following:

     (1) A process for a school, a group of schools, a subdivision or department of a group of schools or a subdivision or department of a school to apply for designation as an innovation zone that encompasses at least the following:

     (A) The manner, time and process for the submission of an innovation zone application;

     (B) The contents of the application, which must include a general description of the innovations the school or schools seek to institute and an estimation of the employees who may be affected by the implementation of the innovations; and

     (C) Factors to be considered by the state board when evaluating an application, which shall include, but are not limited to, the following factors:

     (i) The level of staff commitment to apply for designation as an innovation zone as determined by a vote by secret ballot at a special meeting of employees eligible to vote on the plan, as provided in section six of this article;

     (ii) Support from parents, students, the county board of education, the local school improvement council and school business partners; and

     (iii) The potential for an applicant to be successful as an innovation zone; and

     (2) Standards for the state board to review applications for designation as innovation zones and to make determinations on the designation of innovation zones.

     (c) The state board shall review innovation zone applications in accordance with the standards adopted by the board and shall determine whether to designate the applicant as an innovation zone. The state board shall notify an applicant of the board's determination within sixty days of receipt of an innovation zone application.

     When initially designating innovation zones after the enactment of this article by the first extraordinary session of the 2009 Legislature, the state board shall consider applicants for designation in the following order: (1) A school and groups of schools; (2) a group of schools seeking designation across the same subdivision or department of the schools; and (3) a school seeking designation of a subdivision or a department.

     (d) When designating innovation zones under these provisions following the amendment and reenactment of this section by the Legislature at its regular session 2014, and for each of the four succeeding school years, the state board shall establish a priority for applications that include the establishment of entrepreneurship education programs as a curricular offering for students. To qualify under this priority, the program strategy must include the active involvement of one or more partners from the business community in program delivery. Nothing in this subsection requires the state board to designate all applicants that include the establishment of entrepreneurship education programs as innovation zones, or to exclude other qualified applicants for innovations in other areas from designation. WVC 18 - 5 B- 4 §18-5B-4. Innovation zones; required plans; plan approval; state board rule.
(a) The rule promulgated by the state board pursuant to section three of this article also shall include at least the following:

(1) Each school, group of schools, subdivision or department of a group of schools or subdivision or department of a school designated as an innovation zone or seeking designation as an innovation zone in accordance with this article shall develop an innovation zone plan;

(2) The innovation zone plan shall contain:

(A) A description of the programs, policies or initiatives the school, group of schools, subdivision or department of a group of schools or subdivision or department of a school intends to implement as an innovative strategy to improve student learning if the plan is approved in accordance with section five of this article;

(B) A list of all county and state board rules, policies and interpretations, and all statutes, if any, identified as prohibiting or constraining the implementation of the plan, including an explanation of the specific exceptions to the rules, policies and interpretations and statutes required for plan implementation. A school, a group of schools, a subdivision or department of a group of schools or a subdivision or department of a school may not request an exception nor may an exception be granted from any of the following:

(i) An assessment program administered by the West Virginia Department of Education;

(ii) Any provision of law or policy required by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Public Law No. 107-110 or other federal law; and

(iii) Section seven, article two and sections seven-a, seven-b, eight and eight-b, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code, except as provided in section eight of this article; and

(C) Any other information the state board requires.

(3) The innovation zone plan may include:

(A) An emphasis in the early childhood through intermediate grade levels on ensuring that each student is prepared fully at each grade level, including additional intervention strategies at grade levels three and eight to reinforce the preparation of students who are not prepared fully for promotion, or an emphasis in the secondary grade levels on ensuring that each student is prepared fully for college or other post-secondary education, as applicable for the school; and

(B) An emphasis on innovative strategies that allows academically advanced students to pursue academic learning above grade level or not available through the normal curriculum at the school.

(b) Each school, group of schools, subdivision or department of a group of schools or subdivision or department of a school designated or seeking designation as an innovation zone shall submit its innovation zone plan to the school's employees, the county superintendent and county board having jurisdiction over the school, the state board, and the state superintendent in accordance with section five of this article.

WVC 18 - 5 B- 5 §18-5B-5. Approval of innovation zone plans; waiver of statutes, policies, rules or interpretations.
(a) Each school, group of schools, subdivision or department of a group of schools or subdivision or department of a school designated or seeking designation as an innovation zone shall:

(1) Submit its innovation zone plan to each employee regularly employed at the school if the employee's primary job duties would be affected by the implementation of the plan. An innovation zone plan is approved by school employees when approved by a vote by secret ballot as provided in section six of this article;

(2) Submit its innovation zone plan as approved by vote of school employees to the county superintendent and board for review. The county board shall within sixty days of receipt of the plan review the plan and with recommendations from the county superintendent report its support or concerns, or both, and return the plan and report to the school principal, faculty senate and local school improvement council; and

(3) Submit its innovation zone plan as approved by vote of the school employees eligible to vote on the plan along with the report of the county board to the state board and state superintendent for review. The county board shall be given an opportunity to present its concerns with the plan, if any, to the state board during its review. Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, the state board and state superintendent shall approve or disapprove the plan within sixty days of receipt, subject to the following:

(A) No exceptions to county or state board rules, policies or interpretations are granted unless both the state superintendent and the state board approve the plan at least conditionally pursuant to subsections (b) and (c) of this section; and

(B) If the plan is disapproved, the state superintendent, the state board or both, as applicable, shall communicate the reasons for the disapproval to the school, the group of schools, the subdivision or department of a group of schools or the subdivision or department of a school and shall make recommendations for improving the plan. The school, the group of schools, the subdivision or department of a group of schools or the subdivision or department of a school may amend the plan pursuant to subsection (d) of this section.

(b) Upon the approval of an innovation zone plan by the state board and state superintendent, all exceptions to county and state board rules, policies and interpretations listed within the plan are granted, subject to the limitations contained in subdivision (B), subparagraph (2), subsection (a) of section four of this article.

(c) If an innovation zone plan, or a part thereof, may not be implemented unless an exception to a statute is granted by Act of the Legislature, the state board and state superintendent may approve the plan, or the part thereof, only upon the condition that the Legislature acts to grant the exception. If the state board and state superintendent approve a plan on that condition, the state board and state superintendent shall submit the plan with the request for an exception to a statute, along with supporting reasons, to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability. The commission shall review the plan and exemption request and make a recommendation to the Legislature regarding the exception requested.

(d) The rule promulgated by the state board pursuant to section three of this article shall include a process for amending or revising an innovation zone plan. The process shall require that any amendments or revisions to an innovation zone plan are subject to the approval requirements of subsection (a) of this section.

WVC 18 - 5 B- 6 §18-5B-6. Employee approval of innovation plan application and plan; transfer of employees.
(a) An employee shall be eligible to vote in accordance with the provisions of this section if: (1) The employee is regularly employed at the school; and (2) the employee's primary job duties will be affected by the implementation of the innovation zone plan. The panel created in subsection (c) of this section and the principal shall determine which employees are eligible to vote in accordance with this subsection. No employee may be eligible to vote unless both the panel and the principal determine that the employee is eligible to vote.

(b) A secret ballot vote at a special meeting of all employees regularly employed at the school who are eligible to vote in accordance with this section shall be conducted to determine the following:

(1) The level of employee commitment to apply for designation as an innovation zone in accordance with section three of this article; and

(2) The approval of an innovation zone plan as required by section five of this article.

(c) A panel consisting of the elected officers of the faculty senate of the school or schools, one representative of the service personnel employed at the school and three parent members appointed by the local school improvement council shall call the meeting required in subsection (b) of this section, conduct the votes and certify the results to the principal, the county superintendent and the president of the county board. The panel shall provide notice of the special meeting to all employees eligible to vote at least two weeks prior to the meeting and shall provide an absentee ballot to each employee eligible to vote who cannot attend the meeting to vote.

(d) At least eighty percent of the employees who are eligible to vote in accordance with this section must vote to apply for designation as an innovation zone and to approve the school's innovation zone plan before the level of staff commitment at the school is sufficient for the school to apply for designation and before the plan is approved by the school.

(e) An employee regularly employed at a school applying for or designated as an innovation zone whose job duties may be affected by implementation of the innovation zone plan or proposed plan may request a transfer to another school in the school district. The county board shall make every reasonable effort to accommodate the transfer.

WVC 18 - 5 B- 7 §18-5B-7. Progress reviews and annual reports.
(a) At least annually, the state board or its designated committee shall review the progress of the development or implementation of an innovation zone plan. If, following such a review, the state board determines that a designated school, group of schools, subdivision or department of a group of schools, subdivision or department of a school or a school created by a state institution of higher education in accordance with section nine of this article has not made adequate progress toward developing or implementing its plan, the board shall submit a report to the designated school, group of schools, subdivision or department of a group of schools, subdivision or department of a school or a school created by a state institution of higher education in accordance with section nine of this article identifying its areas of concern. The state board or its designated committee may conduct an additional review within six months of submitting a report in accordance with this section. If, following such additional review, the state board or its designated committee determines that the designated school, group of schools, subdivision or department of a group of schools, subdivision or department of a school or a school created by a state institution of higher education in accordance with section nine of this article has not made adequate progress toward developing or implementing its innovation zone plan, the state board may revoke the designation as an innovation zone or, if the innovation zone plan has been approved in accordance with section five of this article, rescind its approval of the plan.

(b) The state board shall provide an annual report on innovation zones and the progress of innovation zone plans to the Legislative Oversight Committee for Educational Accountability.

WVC 18 - 5 B- 8 §18-5B-8. Teacher vacancies in an innovation zone; job postings exceeding certain qualifications and requirements; approval of postings.
A school, group of schools, subdivision or department of a group of schools, or a subdivision or department of a school whose school innovation zone plan has been approved in accordance with section five of this article may make a job posting for a teacher vacancy at the school, the group of schools, the subdivision or department of a group of schools, or the subdivision or department of a school designated as an innovation zone that sets forth standards or qualifications that exceed the standards and qualifications provided in section seven-a, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code: Provided, That teachers in the county approve the job posting by majority vote: Provided, however, That the county superintendent administers the vote and the record of the vote remains on file in the personnel office of the county board until the school group of schools, subdivision or department of a group of schools, or a subdivision or department of a school is no longer designated as an innovation zone.

WVC 18 - 5 B- 9 §18-5B-9. Establishment of new innovation zone schools by state institutions of higher education.
(a) A state institution of higher education may establish a new innovation zone school subject to the following:

(1) The school will be under the jurisdiction of the state institution of higher education;

(2) The county board with jurisdiction over the school district in which the new school is planned to be located must approve the establishment of the new innovation zone school;

(3) The state institution of higher education must enter into cooperative agreements with the county board or county boards whose students attend the new innovation zone school. The agreements shall include at least required reporting on student attendance, academic progress and any other matters relating to the administration, operation and support of the school agreed to by institution and the board or boards;

(4) Students attending the school shall be enrolled in a school in their county of residence subject to the policies of the county. The students may participate in extracurricular and cocurricular activities at the county school in which they are enrolled and, subject to the cooperative agreement with the state institution of higher education, participate in curricular activities at the county school in which they are enrolled;

(5) No funds provided to support the planning and implementation of school innovation zones pursuant to this article may be used for a state institution of higher education to establish a new innovation zone school; and

(6) A school established in accordance with this section may not be funded with: (1) Moneys appropriated by the Legislature to fund the innovation zone program; or (2) state or county moneys that result from the school aid formula.

(b) The state board shall promulgate a rule, including an emergency rule if necessary, in accordance with article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code for a state institution of higher education to establish a new innovation zone school. The rule shall include provisions for at least the following:

(1) A process for a state institution of higher education in accordance with this section to apply for designation as innovation zone and for approval of its innovation zone plan that encompasses at least the following:

(A) The manner, time and process for the submission of an application for innovation zone designation and for approval of its innovation zone plan;

(B) The contents of the application; and

(C) Factors to be considered by the state board when evaluating an application and plan, which shall include, but are not limited to, support from parents, students, county board or boards of education, the local school improvement council or councils and school business partners and the potential for a school to be successful as an innovation zone.

(2) A school created by state institution of higher education designated as an innovation zone or seeking designation as an innovation zone in accordance with this section shall develop an innovation zone plan that includes at least the following:

(A) A description of the programs, policies or initiatives the state institution of higher education intends to implement as an innovative strategy to improve student learning if the plan is approved;

(B) The approval of the county board of education with jurisdiction over the school district in which the new school is planned to be or is located and the cooperative agreements with the county board or county boards whose students attend the new innovation zone school;

(C) A list of all county and state board rules, policies and interpretations, and all statutes, if any, identified as prohibiting or constraining the implementation of the plan, including an explanation of the specific exceptions to the rules, policies and interpretations and statutes required for plan implementation;

(D) A policy under which the state institution of higher education and participating county board or boards of education agree to meet the accountability requirements for student assessment under all applicable assessment programs administered by the West Virginia Department of Education and provisions of law or policy required by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Public Law No. 107-110 or other federal law; and

(E) Any other information the state board requires.

(3) Standards for the state board to review applications for designation as innovation zones and to make determinations on the approval of innovation zone plans.

(c) The state board and state superintendent shall review innovation zone applications and plans of a school created by a state institution of higher education in accordance with the standards adopted by the board and shall determine whether to designate it as an innovation zone or approve it plan, as applicable. The state board and state superintendent shall notify an applicant of the board's determination within sixty days of receipt of an innovation zone application and receipt of an innovation zone plan. If the plan is disapproved, the state board and state superintendent shall communicate the reasons for the disapproval to the school and make recommendations for improving the plan. The school may amend and resubmit the plan to the state board.

(d) Upon the approval of an innovation zone plan by the state board and state superintendent, all exceptions to county and state board rules, policies and interpretations listed within the plan are granted. If an innovation zone plan, or a part thereof, may not be implemented unless an exception to a statute is granted by Act of the Legislature, the state board and state superintendent may approve the plan, or the part thereof, only upon the condition that the Legislature acts to grant the exception. If the state board and state superintendent approve a plan on that condition, the state board and state superintendent shall submit the plan with the request for an exception to a statute, along with supporting reasons, to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability. The commission shall review the plan and request and make a recommendation to the Legislature on the exception requested.

WVC 18 - 5 B- 10 §18-5B-10. Exceptions to statutes granted to innovation zones; limitations.

  (a) The Legislature hereby grants an exception to the statute or statutes indicated for the following schools pursuant to and for the purposes enumerated in their innovation zone plans approved by the state board at its meeting on the date specified. The grant of an exception to a statute means that the school or schools granted the exception may implement the actions as specifically described in their approved innovation zone plan notwithstanding the provisions of this code from which they are specifically excepted. These exceptions are limited to the purposes as specifically described in the plan approved on the date indicated and are expressly repealed for any plan modification or plan implementation which changes those purposes. However, nothing in this section prohibits a school or schools with an approved innovation zone plan from requesting plan modifications, subject to approval of the state board, and if the modifications change the purposes for which an exception to a statute was granted, the state board shall request an exception to achieve the new purposes in the manner provided in section five of this article for requesting exceptions to a statute. If the approved innovation zone plan of a school or schools is withdrawn by the state board, or the innovation zone designation of a school or schools is revoked by the state board, the exception granted to that school or those schools is expressly repealed.

  (b) The following exceptions are granted:

  (1) Piedmont Elementary School, Kanawha County, is excepted from subsection (3), section fourteen, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code for the purpose of allowing specialist teachers to take their planning period before and after school totaling one hour, three days per week, and from section eighteen-a, article five of this chapter for the purpose of permitting a number of students in music and physical education classes in excess of the class size limits to provide the time and structure for teams to meet in professional learning communities, which purposes are as more specifically described in the school's innovation zone plan approved by the state board on January 13, 2010;

  (2) Putnam County High Schools Consortium comprised of Buffalo High School, Hurricane High School, Poca High School, Winfield High School and Putnam Career and Technical Center, Putnam County, is excepted from section forty-five, article five of this chapter only to the extent necessary for the purpose of establishing a structured transition program for freshman only one day prior to the beginning of the regular instructional term, and for the purpose of permitting the creation of not more than three hours each month during the school term of structured, regularly scheduled time for all teachers to work in professional learning communities, which purposes are as more specifically described in the schools' innovation zone plan approved by the state board on January 13, 2010;

  (3) Nellis Elementary School, Boone County, is excepted from subsection (a), section two, article five-a of this chapter, for the purpose of expanding the membership of its local school improvement council, which purpose is as more specifically described in the school's innovation zone plan approved by the state board on January 13, 2010;

  (4) Cabell County Secondary School Consortium comprised of Cabell County Career Technical Center, Cabell Midland High School and Huntington High School, Cabell County, is excepted from sections one and one-a, article eight of this chapter for the purpose of raising the compulsory school attendance age to eighteen years old, and from section two-b, article three, chapter eighteen-a of this code for the purpose of providing a customized high quality beginning teacher induction program developed at the county level, which purposes are as more specifically described in the schools' innovation zone plan approved by the state board on January 13, 2010;

  (5) Clay County Schools is excepted from section fifteen, article five of this chapter for the purpose of allowing persons over the age of twenty-one years to enroll without charge of fees in the Clay County Schools "iREAD" program and upon, successful completion, be awarded a Clay County High School Diploma, which purposes are more specifically described in the Clay County School's innovation zone plan approved by the state board on January 12, 2011. The grant of this exception does not abrogate the authority of the state board to determine the minimum standards for granting diplomas pursuant to section six, article two of this chapter and does not permit persons over the age of twenty-one who reenter the public schools to be included in net enrollment for the purposes of funding pursuant to article nine-a of this chapter, except as otherwise provided by law;

  (6) Monroe County Schools is excepted from subdivision (3), subsection (a), section one-a, article eight of this chapter for the purpose of allowing the school district to increase the compulsory school attendance age from seventeen years of age to eighteen years of age as part of its county-wide dropout prevention initiative as more specifically described in the Monroe County School's Local Solutions Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zone plan approved by the state board on November 14, 2012; and

  (7) Nicholas County Schools is excepted from sections four, eight and eleven, article eight of this chapter only to the extent necessary to permit up to two unexcused absences per semester on regular instructional days to be erased from a student's attendance record and not used toward the initiation of the attendance enforcement actions as set-forth in those sections, if the student successfully completes the county's Saturday instruction program operated as part of the county's county-wide Attendance Recovery dropout prevention initiative as more specifically described in the Nicholas County School's Local Solutions Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zone plan approved by the state board on October 3, 2012. WVC 18 - 5 B- 11 §18-5B-11. Local Solution Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zone Act..
  (a) Legislative findings, intent and purpose.

  The Legislature finds that:

  (1) High school graduation is an essential milestone for all West Virginia students and impacts the future success of the individual, community and state;

  (2) There are significant correlations between educational attainment and labor market outcomes, greater labor force participation rate, increased employment rates, improved health, and decreased levels of poverty and crime. The negative impact on these linkages is most evident in the absence of high school completion;

  (3) Dropping out of school is a process, not an event, with factors building and compounding over time;

  (4) Students at risk of not completing high school can be identified as early as sixth grade using the indicators of attendance, behavior and course failures. Therefore, a comprehensive graduation plan must include a comprehensive systemic approach that emphasizes early interventions;

  (5) Research identifies a number of effective strategies for engaging students that have the most positive impact on improving high school graduation rates. Some of these strategies are school-community collaboration, safe learning environments, family engagement, early literacy development, mentoring and tutoring services, service learning opportunities, alternative and nontraditional schooling, offering multiple pathways and settings for attaining high school diplomas, after-school opportunities, individualized instruction and career and technical education;

  (6) Schools cannot solve the dropout problem alone. Research shows when educators, parents, elected officials, business leaders, faith-based leaders, human service personnel, judicial personnel and civic leaders collectively work together they are often able to find innovative solutions to address school and community problems; and

  (7) Increasing high school graduation rates is an important factor in preparing a college and career-ready citizenry. Higher education institutions, including community and technical colleges, are essential partners in creating local and statewide solutions.

  (b) Therefore, the intent of the Legislature is to provide a separate category of innovation zones designated "Local Solution Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zones" intended to achieve the following purposes:

  (1) Provide for the establishment of Local Solution Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zones to increase graduation rates and reduce the number of dropouts from West Virginia schools;

  (2) Provide schools and communities with opportunities for greater collaboration to plan and implement systemic approaches that include evidence-based solutions for increasing graduation rates and reducing the number of dropouts;

  (3) Provide a testing ground for innovative graduation programs, incentives and approaches to reducing the number of dropouts;

  (4) Provide information regarding the effects of specific innovations, collaborations and policies on graduation rates and dropout prevention and recovery; and

  (5) Document educational strategies that increase graduation rates, prevent dropouts and enhance student success.

  (c) Local Solution Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zones.

  A school, a group of schools or a school district may be designated as a Local Solution Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zone in accordance with the provisions of this article, subject to the provisions of this section. The state board shall propose rules for legislative promulgation, including an emergency rule if necessary, in accordance with article three-b chapter twenty-nine of this code to implement the provisions of this section. All provisions of this article apply to Local Solution Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zones, including, but not limited to, the designation, application, approval, waiver of statutes, policies, rule and interpretations, employee approval, employee transfers, progress reviews, reports and revocations, and job postings, subject to the following:

  (1) For purposes of this section, a "school, a group of schools or a school district" means a high school, a group of schools comprised of a high school and any of the elementary and middle schools whose students will attend the high school, or a school district whose graduation rate in the year in which an application is made is less than ninety percent based on the latest available school year data published by the Department of Education;

  (2) The contents of the application for designation as a Local Solution Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zone must include a description of the dropout prevention and recovery strategies and that the school, group of schools or school district plans to implement if designated as a Local Solution Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zone, and any other information the state board requires. The application also shall include a list of all county and state board rules, policies and interpretations, and all statutes, if any, identified as prohibiting or constraining the implementation of the plan, including an explanation of the specific exceptions to the rules, policies and interpretations and statutes required for plan implementation. A school, a group of schools, or school district may not request an exception nor may an exception be granted from any of the following:

  (i) An assessment program administered by the West Virginia Department of Education;

  (ii) Any provision of law or policy required by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Public Law No. 107-110 or other federal law; and

  (iii) Section seven, article two and sections seven-a, seven- b, eight and eight-b, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code, except as provided in section eight of this article;

  (3) The factors to be considered by the state board when evaluating an application shall include, but are not limited to, the following:

  (A) Evidence that other individuals or entities and community organizations are involved as partners to collectively work with the applicant to achieve the purposes as outlined in the dropout prevention and recovery plan. These individuals or entities and community organizations may include, but are not limited to, individuals or entities and community organizations such as parents, local elected officials, business leaders, faith-based leaders, human service personnel, judicial personnel, civic leaders community and technical colleges Higher education institutions;

  (B) The level of commitment and support of staff, parents, students, the county board of education, the local school improvement council and the school's business partners as determined in accordance with this article apply to become a Local Solutions Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zone;

  (C) The potential for an applicant to be successful in building community awareness of the high school dropout problem and developing and implementing its dropout prevention and recovery plan; and

  (D) Implementation of the statewide system of easily identifiable early warning indicators of students at risk of not completing high school developed by the state board in accordance with section six, article eight of this chapter, known as The High School Graduation Improvement Act, along with a plan of interventions to increase the number of students earning a high school diploma;

  (4) The rule shall provide standards for the state board to review applications for designation as a Local Solutions Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zones;

  (5) The application for designation as a Local Solutions Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zone under this section is subject to approval in accordance with sections five and six of this article. In addition to those approval stages, the application, if approved by the school employees, shall be presented to the local school improvement council for approval prior to submission to county superintendent and board. Approval by the local school improvement council is obtain when at least eighty percent of the local school improvement council members present and voting after a quorum is established vote in favor of the application; and

  (6) Upon approval by the state board and state superintendent of the application, all exceptions to county and state board rules, policies and interpretations listed within the plan are granted. The applicant school, group of schools or school district shall proceed to implement the plan as set forth in the approved application and no further plan submissions or approval are required, except that if an innovation zone plan, or a part thereof, may not be implemented unless an exception to a statute is granted by Act of the Legislature, the state board and state superintendent may approve the plan, or the part thereof, only upon the condition that the Legislature acts to grant the exception as provided in this article.

  (d) Local solutions dropout prevention and recovery fund.

  There is hereby created in the State Treasury a special revenue fund to be known as the "Local Solutions Dropout Prevention and Recovery Fund." The fund shall consist of all moneys received from whatever source to further the purpose of this article. The fund shall be administered by the state board solely for the purposes of this section. Any moneys remaining in the fund at the close of a fiscal year shall be carried forward for use in the next fiscal year. Fund balances shall be invested with the state's consolidated investment fund and any and all interest earnings on these investments shall be used solely for the purposes that moneys deposited in the fund may be used pursuant to this section. WVC 18 - 5 B- 12 §18-5B-12. School system collaborative innovation zone; requirements to qualify; application for designation; required plans for innovation zones; plan approval; waiver of statutes, policies, rules or interpretations; progress reviews and annual reports; teacher vacancies, job postings and approval.

     (a) The Legislature makes the following findings and expressions of legislative intent:

     (1) The Legislature created a performance-based accreditation system in 1988 and has amended these provisions several times, significantly in 1998 to set forth a process for improving education consisting of four elements: (i) High quality education standards; (ii) an assessment of the performance and progress of schools and school systems in achieving these standards with a primary focus on student learning; (iii) holding schools and school systems accountable for performance and progress to provide assurances that a thorough and efficient education is being provided; and (iv) a process for targeting resources strategically to improve teaching and learning. These provisions include a process for the state board to declare a state of emergency and intervene in the operation of a school system when its educational program does not meet the standards and it fails to implement an improvement plan or meet the plan's deadlines and improve within a reasonable time. Since the inception of these provisions, the state board has declared a state of emergency in nine county school systems and intervened, including delegating decision-making authority to the state superintendent or his or her designee for system operations. Of these nine school systems, three improved sufficiently over a period of time for the state of emergency to be rescinded, the longest of which took ten years and six months. Of the six systems remaining under state board intervention, although most are fairly recent, one school system has been under state intervention for more than ten years and its improvement is progressing slowly;

     (2) School systems do not exist in a vacuum and external circumstances and events can have a significant impact on them and the students they serve, as well as on the system's capacity to deliver the thorough and efficient education to which those students are entitled. For example, the McDowell County school system which in the 1950's at its height of employment in coal production had a total population of about 100,000 residents, faced much different challenges than it does today with that county's total population now at 22,113 based on the 2010 census. This school system has lost nearly 70 percent of its enrollment in the past 30 years, declining from 11,715 students in 1981-82 to 3,535 in 2011-12. Along with the steep decline in the historical bedrock of employment in the county in the coal industry and the large number of middle class workers and services it supported, including housing, utilities and medical care, the county's rugged mountainous topography contributes to its vulnerability to natural disasters such as the devastating floods in 2001 and 2002 that swept away many homes and much of the infrastructure along the creek beds throughout the county. This topography also significantly limits the amount of land suitable for development and transportation networks, and makes planning for future economic development alternatives difficult. The social and economic byproducts of these external circumstances and events leave a school system with many atypical challenges for addressing the needs of its students and making the improvements in performance and progress needed to assure a thorough and efficient education;

     (3) Among the findings, intent and purposes of this article are that: (i) Allowing exceptions from certain statutes, policies, rules and interpretations through the creation of innovation zones will enable greater local control over the important educational factors that impact student achievement and the delivery of educational services to improve student learning; and (ii) innovation zones will provide greater flexibility and local control to meet the needs of a diverse population of students. In addition, among the findings of the Local Solution Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zone Act as set forth in section eleven of this article are findings that when educators, parents, elected officials, business leaders, faith-based leaders, human service personnel, judicial personnel and civic leaders collectively work together they are often able to find innovative solutions to address school and community problems. Since the creation of this article, forty-five innovation zone projects have been approved by the state board, nine of which were Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zone projects. Twenty-seven policy waivers and five statutory waivers have been granted to enable implementation of these projects. In one county, an innovation zone project was expanded to all of the remaining schools in the county when the schools used the Local School Improvement Council waiver process to request and receive a statutory waiver to implement a comprehensive new teacher induction process countywide. Collectively, these projects illustrate how local schools, and in some cases school systems, have increased their capacity by using the innovation zone process to collaboratively plan and implement a variety of changes to increase student engagement, develop more flexible schedules, enhance student and teacher ownership of the learning process and increase student achievement;

     (4) Choosing one county school system under a declared state of emergency due to nonapproval status to designate as an innovation zone would allow the testing of innovations that could be replicated in other school systems facing similar circumstances across the state, nation and world;

     (5) Numerous studies have shown an association between a young person's health status and his or her ability to succeed in educational settings;

     (6) McDowell County is unique and should be given the first opportunity to use innovative solutions to improve its education system when the totality of the circumstances set forth in this subsection are considered. Other facts specifically applicable to McDowell County include the following:

     (A) The McDowell County school system has been under a continuous declared state of emergency by the state board due to nonapproval status longer than any other county that is currently under a declared state of emergency;

     (B) The McDowell County school system is engaged in a public- private partnership to begin addressing challenges both within the school system and in the community at large; and

     (C) McDowell County has a chronic shortage of good roads, public transportation, housing, Internet bandwidth, recreation centers and health clinics;

     (7) This section is intended as an additional tool for an eligible school system in collaboration with community and business partners to plan and implement new approaches to improve the performance and progress of the students, schools and system to achieve full approval at the earliest possible date. It is further the intent of the Legislature that the process for an eligible school system to apply for exceptions under this section should allow multiple opportunities to apply for additional exceptions as the system moves forward with its partners toward fulfillment of its improvement goals; and

     (8) In accordance with the intent of this section as an additional tool for planning and implementing new approaches to improve the performance and progress of the students, schools and school system to achieve full approval at the earliest possible date, the state board shall rescind the state of emergency and nonapproval status of a school system designated as a school system collaborative innovation zone as soon as the requisite conditions are met as provided in section five, article two-e of this chapter, notwithstanding the designation. If a school system that has been designated as a school system collaborative innovation zone is subsequently issued a school system approval status that would make it ineligible for the designation, the designation shall remain in effect as provided in this section.

     (b) The state board is authorized to choose one county school system currently under a declared state of emergency by the state board due to nonapproval status to participate in a program to test the effectiveness of allowing such county school systems to be considered school system collaborative innovation zones. Due to the reasons set forth in subsection (a) of this section, the McDowell County Board of Education shall be provided the first opportunity to submit a school system collaborative innovation zone application under this article. If the McDowell County Board of Education has not submitted an application by April 1, 2013 or less than fifty percent cast ballots in an election to approve a school system collaborative innovation zone plan, the state board may accept applications from other county boards under a declared state of emergency by the state board due to nonapproval status.

     (c) The Legislature finds that an emergency exists and, therefore, no later than April 16, 2012, the state board shall promulgate an emergency rule in accordance with section ten, article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, to implement the provisions of this section. The state board also shall promulgate a legislative rule, in accordance with article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, to implement this section. Both rules shall include, but not be limited to, the following provisions:

     (1) The manner, time and process for the submission of a school system collaborative innovation zone application;

     (2) The contents of the application, which must include a general description of the innovations the county school district seeks to institute;

     (3) Factors to be considered by the state board when evaluating an application, which shall include, but are not limited to, the following factors:

     (A) Support from teachers, staff, parents, students, the county board of education, the local school improvement council and school business partners; and

     (B) The potential for an applicant to be successful in raising student achievement as a school system collaborative innovation zone; and

     (4) Standards for the state board to review applications for designation as a school system collaborative innovation zone and to make determinations on the designation of a school system collaborative innovation zone.

     (d) The state board shall review school system collaborative innovation zone applications in accordance with the standards adopted by the board and shall determine whether to designate the applicant as a school system collaborative innovation zone. The state board shall notify an applicant of the board's determination within thirty days of receipt of the application.

     (e) Prior to designation by the state board as a school system collaborative innovation zone, county school systems submitting applications shall develop school system collaborative innovation zone plans. The school system collaborative innovation zone plan may include, but is not limited to, the following proposals:

     (1) Allowing increased collaborative site-based decision-making powers over the budgeting for and spending on programs and services for students;

     (2) Allowing increased collaborative site-based decision-making powers over teacher recruitment;

     (3) Allowing a collaborative process which ensures accountability and transparency to all stakeholders;

     (4) Allowing a collaborative process which provides input and demonstrative buy-in from education personnel regarding appropriate professional development, supports, resources and working conditions.

     (5) Allowing a collaborative site-based process to reduce certain requirements to allow staff to meet the school's mission;

     (6) Allowing, through a collaborative site-based process, flexibility to the alternative teacher certification provided in section one-a, article three, chapter eighteen-a of this code;

     (7) Utilizing virtual school courses aligned with the Southern Regional Education Board's Standards for Quality Online Courses; and

     (8) Other innovation zone plans approved under the provisions of this article and being implemented in other schools and school systems throughout the state.

     (f) Prior to submitting a school system collaborative innovation zone plan to the state board:

     (1) The school system in collaboration with its public-private partnership shall conduct public town hall meetings in at least two schools in the county for the purpose of soliciting input from those in attendance on the challenges affecting the quality of education in the county and the potential strategies and priorities for addressing them. The two meetings shall occur within ten days of each other;

     (2) Within fifteen days after the last town hall meeting, the county superintendent shall hold a meeting for the purpose of reviewing the input gathered at the public town hall meetings and developing the school system collaborative innovation zone plan. The meeting shall include the principals employed within the county, the chairs of the faculty senates of each school in the county, employee organization representatives, a school service person from each work site, parents and other stakeholders;

     (3) Within fifteen days after the meeting to develop the school system collaborative innovation zone plan, the county superintendent shall hold a meeting of all regularly employed school employees for the purpose of educating those employees about the plan and for the purpose of providing the employees an opportunity to examine and discuss the school system collaborative innovation zone plan; and

     (4) At the meeting required by subdivision (3) of this section, the county superintendent shall direct that a vote of all regularly employed school employees in the county be conducted to determine the level of school employee support for the school system collaborative innovation zone plan. The vote shall be completed within fifteen days after the meeting required by subdivision (3) of this subsection. The vote shall be by secret ballot administered by the panels created in subsection (c), section six of this article for each school and shall be administered in accordance with that subsection. For the vote to be valid, ballots must be cast by at least fifty percent of all regularly employed school employees in the county. The plan may not be submitted to the state board and the state board may not designate the school system as a school system collaborative innovation zone unless at least two-thirds of the employees voting vote to submit the plan.

     (g) Approval of a school system collaborative innovation zone plan pursuant to this section is at the sole discretion of the state board. Any approval requirement not contained within this section does not apply.

     (h) The plan is intended to serve as the basis for the innovation zone activities of the school system and to provide a vision for the school improvement goals it will work to accomplish in collaboration with its school and community partners. The plan is not intended as a limit on the normal school improvement activities that all school systems are expected to pursue, nor is the plan intended as a restriction on the ability of the school system or its schools to pursue other innovative strategies in accordance with the other provisions of this article, specifically the designation as a Local Solution Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zone in accordance with section eleven of this article.

     (i) The designation as a school system collaborative innovation zone authorizes the school system to submit requests as provided in subsection (j) of this section to the state board for exceptions to statutes, policies, rules and interpretations that are required to permit implementation by the school system of the innovative strategies contemplated in its school system collaborative innovation zone plan. The designation shall be for a period of five years, during which the school system may submit multiple individual requests for exceptions to permit implementation of different strategies contemplated in the plan as the strategies are developed. Each request for an exception shall be submitted and may be approved by the state board in accordance with subsection (j) of this section.

     (j) (1) A school system designated as a school system collaborative innovation zone may request an exception to a statute, policy, rule or interpretation by submitting an application to the state board that contains the following information:

     (A) A description of the program or initiative the school system intends to implement as an innovative strategy to improve student achievement if the request is approved by the state board;

     (B) An explanation of the specific exception to a statute, policy, rule or interpretation, in the singular or plural, that the school system has identified as prohibiting or constraining the implementation of the program or initiative and why the exception is necessary;

     (C) An explanation of how the program or initiative furthers the activities contemplated in the school system collaborative innovation zone plan;

     (D) A certification by the county superintendent that the request for an exception was approved by a vote of the eligible employees in accordance with the process for voting as set forth in section six of this article, except that notwithstanding subsection (d) of said section six, at least two-thirds of the eligible employees voting must vote to request the exception for it to be approved for submission to the state board: Provided, That for the vote to be valid, ballots must be cast by at least fifty percent of the eligible employees; and

     (E) Any other information the state board requires as set forth in its rule pursuant to subsection (c) of this section.

     (2) The state board shall review the request in accordance with the standards adopted by the board in its rule and shall determine whether to approve or disapprove the request. The approval or disapproval of a request is at the sole discretion of the state board. Any approval requirement not contained within this section does not apply.

     (3) Except as provided in subdivision (5) of this subsection, the state board shall approve or disapprove the request within thirty days of receipt, subject to the following:

     (A) No exceptions to state board policies, rules or interpretations are granted unless the state board approves the request at least conditionally pursuant to subdivisions (2) and (5) of this subsection; and

     (B) If the request is disapproved, the state board shall communicate its reasons for the disapproval to the school system and shall make recommendations for improving the request. The school system may amend and resubmit the request.

     (4) Upon approval of the request by the state board, all of the exceptions to state board policies, rules and interpretations that were requested are granted; and

     (5) If a request, or a part thereof, may not be implemented unless an exception to a statute is granted by an Act of the Legislature, the state board may approve the request, or the part thereof, only upon the condition that the Legislature acts to grant the exception. If the state board approves a request on that condition, the state board shall submit the request for an exception to a statute, along with supporting reasons, to the Legislative Oversight Commission of Education Accountability. The commission shall review the request and make a recommendation to the Legislature regarding the exception requested.

     (k) A school system collaborative innovation zone may not request an exception nor may an exception be granted from any of the following:

     (A) A required statewide assessment program administered by the West Virginia Department of Education;

     (B) Any provision of law or policy required by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Public Law No. 107-110 or other federal law; and

     (C) Sections two and seven, article two, chapter eighteen-a of this code and sections seven-a, seven-b, eight and eight-b, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code, except that a school system collaborative innovation zone may make a job posting for a teacher vacancy in accordance with the procedures and the approval by a vote of the teachers as provided in section eight of this article.

     (l) A county board designated as a school system collaborative innovation zone pursuant to this section that has an approved innovation zone plan may revise its plan and resubmit its plan to the state board for approval after conducting the vote pursuant to subdivision (4), subsection (f) of this section and complying with all other applicable plan requirements set forth in this section except for holding the public town hall meetings required by subdivision (1), subsection (f) of this section.

     (m) The designation of a county school system as a school system collaborative innovation zone shall be for a period of five years. The state board, upon request of the school system, may extend the designation for an additional two years if the school system has outstanding items in its school system collaborative innovation zone plan that it still wants to pursue and only for the purpose of pursuing those outstanding items. The expiration of the designation does not negate any exceptions to statutes, policies, rules or interpretations granted to the school system, unless and until specifically revoked, repealed or modified by the state board or by the Legislature, as applicable.

     (n) The state board or its designated committee shall perform annual performance reviews and provide annual reports in accordance with section seven of this article.

     (o) A county school system whose plan has been approved may make a job posting for a teacher vacancy in accordance with the procedures and approval provided by section eight of this article.

     (p) For any county that is designated as a school system collaborative innovation zone under the provisions of this section and to the extent the following provisions are applicable:

     (1) The county commission of the designated county shall collaborate with the Office of Coalfield Community Development in including any land and infrastructure needs in the land use master plan provided for in section nine, article two-a, chapter five-b of this code. These needs may include, but are not limited to, advancement of public education, economic development, highway development, recreational amenities and housing development;

     (2) An area health organization, such as Tug River Health Association, Inc., is authorized to work with the county board to address the health, wellness and fitness needs of students, parents, school personnel and all others in the county. Tug River Health Association may partner with the Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health and the Marshall University Medical School in addressing these needs. In addressing the health, wellness and fitness needs, the following should be considered:

     (A) New evaluations of school-aged children are needed to reassess their health status and direct further interventions;

     (B) Prior to developing new assessment tools and initiating programs, a comprehensive inventory of prior assessment tools and programs is needed to determine their strengths and weaknesses. This can direct further studies and interventions;

     (C) New assessment tools should include objective markers of disease as well as subjective opinions of individual health status and barriers to health;

     (D) Objective and subjective data should be linked at individual and disease-specific levels;

     (E) Disease-specific data may be used to address common barriers to health as perceived by a specific population and tailor interventions to these specific populations;

     (F) The effectiveness of interventions should be assessed using the same health status markers used to develop the intervention;

     (G) Interventions should use available technology that allows individuals to track measures of health and provide assistance in making informed decisions about their health;

     (H) Assessments and interventions should be developed and implemented using community-based participatory research models; and

     (I) Assessments and interventions should be multidisciplinary, collaborative efforts with existing organizations and programs; and

     (3) Area institutions of higher education, such as Concord University and the June Harless Center at Marshall University, are authorized to work with the county board on innovative strategies to address challenges facing the school system and community, including, but not limited to, the areas of critical need and shortage in the teaching force, educator professional development and improving the college-going rate. In addressing the areas of critical need shortage in the teaching force, consideration should be given to the implementation of an intensively supervised and mentored teacher-in-residence program for prospective teachers during their senior year in lieu of student teaching. WVC 18 - 5 B- 13 §18-5B-13. Innovation school district Act; legislative findings, intent and purpose; eligibility; application; innovation plan and plan approval; designation; waiver of statutes, policies, rules or interpretations; exceptions; progress reviews and annual reports; state board rule.

     (a) Legislative findings:

     (1) High school completion is an essential milestone for all West Virginia students and impacts the future success of the individual, community and state as well as providing the pathway to and appreciation for life-long learning endeavors;

     (2) There are significant correlations between educational attainment and labor market outcomes, greater labor force participation rate, increased employment rates, improved health, and decreased levels of poverty and crime. The negative impact on these linkages is most evident in the absence of high school completion;

     (3) West Virginia as a state must improve in areas of student achievement, graduation rate, attendance, the college going rate and other indicators of academic success in public schools;

     (4) Research identifies a number of effective strategies for engaging students that have the most positive impact on improving student success and high school graduation. Some of these strategies are school-community collaboration, safe learning environments, family engagement, early literacy development, mentoring and tutoring services, service learning opportunities, alternative and nontraditional schooling, offering multiple pathways and settings for attaining high school diplomas, after- school opportunities, individualized instruction and career and technical education;

     (5) Among the major issues raised by the Efficiency Audit of West Virginia's Primary and Secondary Education System conducted by Public Works, LLC, is a description of West Virginia's system of schools as heavily regulated. The report expresses the advantages of more local autonomy to better meet the needs of students, elevate their aspirations, and prepare them for post-secondary education and careers. Among its general conclusions is the need to drive more educational decision-making to the level closest to the students, to the classroom and building level - allowing principals to lead and teachers to deliver the most effective curriculum for their students - and then holding them accountable for student success;

     (6) The Goals for Education, Vision 2020: An Education Blueprint for Two Thousand Twenty include policy-oriented objectives for restoring the autonomy, authority, flexibility, and capacity of local schools and county boards to improve student learning to meet or exceed the expectations established by the state board and Legislature;

     (7) Allowing exceptions from certain statutes, policies, rules and interpretations through the creation of innovation school districts will restore the autonomy, authority, flexibility, and capacity of local schools and county boards to enable greater local autonomy and encourage innovation over the important factors that impact student achievement and the delivery of educational services to improve student learning; and

     (8) When educators, parents, elected officials, business leaders, faith-based leaders, human service personnel, judicial personnel and civic leaders collectively work together, they are often able to find innovative solutions to address school and community problems and implement a variety of innovative improvements that increase student engagement, develop more flexible schedules, enhance student and teacher ownership of the learning process and increase student achievement.

     (b) Legislative intent and purpose of section:

     In light of the foregoing findings, it is the intent of the Legislature through this section to create a special category of innovation zones entitled "Innovation School Districts" to provide an additional tool for school systems in collaboration with community and business partners to plan and implement new approaches to improve the performance and progress of the students, schools and school system. This section is intended to establish a process that includes:

     (1) Broad participation and collaboration in the establishment of an innovation school district plan that includes approaches to build the capacity of the district to improve the performance and progress of its students, schools and school system; and

     (2) Provides multiple opportunities over a period of five years for a school system designated as an innovation school district to seek and receive exceptions to certain statutes, policies, rules and interpretations applicable throughout the county or at certain schools within the county as needed to best meet the needs of its students as the system moves forward with its partners toward fulfillment of its innovation school district plan.

     (c) School System Eligibility:

     All county boards are eligible to apply for designation as an innovation school district: Provided, That a district that has expended funds or incurred obligations in violation of section twenty-six, article eight, chapter eleven of this code is not eligible to apply for designation as an innovation school district, unless otherwise determined by the state board. The applications shall be taken in four categories: Sparse Density County; Low Density County; Medium Density County; and High Density County, as those terms are defined in section two, article nine-a of this chapter. The state board is authorized to designate no more than one county from each category as an innovation school district beginning July 1, 2015: Provided, That the State Board, after July 1, 2016, may designate one additional county from each category as an innovation school district as long as the number of counties designated at any one time does not exceed two counties from each category as innovation school districts, subject to other considerations included herein. The designation of counties as innovation school districts shall be on a competitive basis.

     (d) Application for designation as Innovation School District:

     The rule promulgated by the state board to implement this section shall include an application and approval process for innovation school district plans that includes, but is not limited to, the following provisions:

     (1) The manner, time and process for the submission of innovation school district applications. The initial application deadline may not be prior to January 2015. If after consideration of the applications submitted to it during an application period, the state board in its sole discretion does not designate the allotted number of school systems in each density category as innovation school districts, the state board may establish another application period to permit county boards in a density category not filled to reapply. In addition, at any time the number of designated innovation school districts in a density category is less than the maximum number allowed by subsection (c) of this section due to the revocation or expiration of a designation, the state board may establish an application period and may select on a competitive basis new school systems to achieve the maximum number allowed by subsection (c) of this section per density category;

     (2) The contents of the application, which must include:

     (A) The innovation school district plan approved in accordance with subsection (f) of this section; and

     (B) A general description of the innovations the school district seeks to institute as proposed in its innovation school district plan;

     (3) Factors to be considered by the state board when evaluating an application, which shall include, but are not limited to, the following factors:

     (A) Support from teachers, staff, parents, students, the county board of education, the local school improvement council and school business partners; and

     (B) The potential for an applicant to be successful in raising student achievement as an innovation school district;

     (4) Standards for the state board to review applications for designation as an innovation school district and to make determinations on the designation of a school system as an innovation school district; and

     (5) An innovation zone application review committee and recommendation process which shall be the same committee and process as used for all other innovation zones under this article.

(e) Innovation School District Plan:

     The innovation school district plan is intended to serve as the basis for the innovative activities of the school system and to provide a vision for the school improvement goals it will work to accomplish in collaboration with its school and community partners. The plan is not intended as a limit on the normal school improvement activities that all school systems are expected to pursue, nor is the plan intended as a restriction on the ability of the school system or its schools to pursue other innovative strategies in accordance with the other provisions of this article. The innovation school district plan may include, but are not limited to, the following proposals:

     (1) Methods for providing schools and communities with opportunities for greater collaboration to plan and implement systemic approaches that include evidence-based solutions for increasing graduation rates, increasing achievement and educational outcomes and reducing the number of dropouts;

     (2) Innovative approaches to revitalize vocational and technical education, an essential mission of county boards;

     (3) Increased collaborative site-based decision-making powers over the budgeting for and spending on programs and services for students;

     (4) Increased collaborative site-based decision-making powers over teacher recruitment;

     (5) Improved site-based mentoring, collaboration and support for strengthening the professional practices of new and emerging teachers, including recognizing and supporting school-based teacher leaders that perform these duties;

     (6) Allowing a collaborative process which ensures accountability and transparency to all stakeholders, provides information and additional measures of the effects of specific innovations upon which the success of the plan may be judged, and documents student, school and school system success;

     (7) Allows input and demonstrative buy-in from education personnel regarding appropriate professional development, supports, resources and working conditions.

     (8) Allowing a collaborative site-based process to reduce certain requirements to allow staff to meet the school's mission;

     (9) Allowing, through a collaborative site-based process, flexibility to the alternative teacher certification programs;

     (10) Utilizing virtual school courses aligned with the Southern Regional Education Board's Standards for Quality Online Courses;

     (11) Providing for greater autonomy for county board, and through the board's innovation's, for local schools; and

     (12) Other innovation zone plans approved under the provisions of this article and being implemented in other schools and school systems throughout the state.

     The innovation school district plan shall include a general description of the innovations the county school district seeks to institute, a proposed time line for implementation and measures for judging the success of the innovation school district plan.

     (f) Innovation School District Plan - District Level Approval:

     Prior to submitting an innovation school district plan to the state board, the county board shall:

     (1) Form a broad based innovation school district stakeholders committee which may include, but is not limited to, educators, parents, elected officials, business leaders, faith-based leaders, human service personnel, judicial personnel and civic leaders, but at a minimum shall include the principals employed within the county, the chairs of the faculty senates of each school in the county, employee organization representatives, a school service person from each work site and parent representatives. The stakeholder committee shall compose a conceptual proposal for the purpose of soliciting input on a variety of approaches that may be undertaken within the county if designated as an innovation school district and to guide development of an innovation school district plan;

     (2) Direct the county superintendent to hold a meeting of all regularly employed school employees to provide them an opportunity to examine and discuss the conceptual proposal. The superintendent shall direct that a vote of all regularly employed school employees in the county be conducted within fifteen days of the meeting to determine the level of school employee support for the conceptual proposal. The vote shall be by secret ballot administered by the panels created in subsection (c), section six of this article for each school and shall be administered in accordance with that subsection. For the vote to be valid, ballots must be cast by at least fifty percent of all regularly employed school employees in the county. Before proceeding with the succeeding subdivisions of this subsection, the conceptual proposal must be approved by at least two-thirds ballots cast voting to approve it. If not approved, the stakeholder committee may revise the conceptual proposal and, subject to direction of the county board, the superintendent shall repeat the steps set forth in this subdivision for a revote;

     (3) Make its conceptual proposal for an innovation school district available to the public at least 20 days prior to the public town hall meetings required under subdivision (4) of this subsection. In order to comply with this public notice requirement, the proposed plan shall be posted on the county board's web site, as well as hard copies of the proposed plan being made available at all county school sites and the county's central office, for public viewing and copying;

(4) After the closure of the 20 day public review period, conduct public town hall meetings in at least three schools in the county, including at least one each at schools with separate secondary, middle and elementary programmatic levels, or as near as possible considering the county's facility infrastructure, for the purpose of soliciting input from those in attendance on the challenges affecting the quality of education in the county and the potential strategies and priorities for addressing them;

     (5) Direct the county superintendent to hold a meeting of the innovation school district stakeholders committee following the public town hall meetings for the purpose of reviewing the input gathered at the meetings and developing an innovation school district plan;

     (6) Direct the county superintendent to hold a meeting of all regularly employed school employees to provide them an opportunity to examine and discuss the innovation school district plan. The superintendent shall direct that a vote of all regularly employed school employees in the county be conducted within fifteen days of the meeting to determine the level of school employee support for the innovation school district plan. The vote shall be conducted as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, except that for the vote to be valid, ballots must be cast by at least sixty percent of all regularly employed school employees in the county and the innovation school district plan must be approved by at least two- thirds of the ballots cast voting to approve it. If not approved, the stakeholder committee may revise the plan and, subject to direction of the county board, the superintendent shall repeat the steps set forth in this subdivision for a revote; and

     (7) The plan may then be submitted by the county superintendent to the county board for a vote to submit the plan to the state board. The authority of a county board to vote to submit an innovation school district plan and the right to submit the plan and be designated as an innovation school district, if selected, in accordance with this section are not subject to or affected by the approval status of the school system or intervention in the authority of county board for school system operation pursuant to section five, article two-e of this chapter.

     (g) State Board Designation of Innovation School Districts:

     The state board shall review the innovation school district applications in accordance with the standards adopted by the board, shall determine the highest rated applicants in each category and shall determine whether to designate those applicants as innovation school districts. The designation of an applicant as an innovation school district is at the sole discretion of the state board. The state board shall notify each applicant of the board's determination within thirty days of the final determinations.

     (h) Innovation School Districts:

     The designation of a school system as an innovation school district authorizes the county board to submit requests to the state board for exceptions to statutes, policies, rules and interpretations that are required to permit implementation of the innovative strategies contemplated in its innovation school district plan. The designation as an innovation school district authorizes the county board to submit to submit multiple individual requests for exceptions to permit implementation of different strategies contemplated in the plan as the strategies are developed. Each request for an exception shall be submitted and may be approved by the state board subject to the following:

     (1) The county board of a school system designated as an innovation school district may request an exception to a statute, policy, rule or interpretation by submitting an application to the state board that contains the following information:

     (A) A description of the program or initiative the school system intends to implement at a school, group of schools or district-wide as an innovative strategy to improve student achievement if the request is approved by the state board;

     (B) An explanation of the specific exception to a statute, policy, rule or interpretation, in the singular or plural, that the school system has identified as prohibiting or constraining the implementation of the program or initiative and why the exception is necessary;

     (C) An explanation of how the program or initiative furthers the activities contemplated in the innovation school district plan;

     (D) A certification by the county superintendent that the request for an exception was approved by a vote of the eligible employees in accordance with the process for voting as set forth in section six of this article; and

     (E) Any other information the state board requires as set forth in its rule to implement this section.

     (2) The state board shall review the request in accordance with the standards in its rule and shall determine whether to approve or disapprove the request. The approval or disapproval of a request is at the sole discretion of the state board in accordance with the requirements of this section.

     (3) Except as provided in subdivision (5) of this subsection, the state board shall approve or disapprove the request within sixty days of receipt, subject to the following:

     (A) No exceptions to state board policies, rules or interpretations are granted unless the state board approves the request at least conditionally pursuant to subdivisions (2) and (5) of this subsection; and

     (B) If the request is disapproved, the state board shall communicate its reasons for the disapproval to the county board and shall make recommendations for improving the request. The county board may amend and resubmit the request.

     (4) Upon approval of the request by the state board, all of the exceptions to state board policies, rules and interpretations that were requested are granted;

     (5) If a request, or a part thereof, may not be implemented unless an exception to a statute is granted by an Act of the Legislature, the state board may approve the request, or the part thereof, only upon the condition that the Legislature acts to grant the exception. If the state board approves a request on that condition, the state board shall submit the request for an exception to a statute, along with supporting reasons, to the Legislative Oversight Commission of Education Accountability. The commission shall review the request and make a recommendation to the Legislature regarding the exception requested; and

     (6) An innovation school district may not request an exception nor may an exception be granted from any of the following:

     (A) A required statewide assessment program administered by the West Virginia Department of Education;

     (B) Any provision of law or policy required by Public Law 94- 142, Public Law No. 107-110 or other federal law;

     (C) Sections two and seven, article two, chapter eighteen-a of this code and sections seven-a, seven-b, eight and eight-b, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code, except that an innovation school district may make a job posting for a teacher vacancy in accordance with the procedures and the approval by a vote of the teachers as provided in section eight of this article; and

     (D) Any statute, policy, rule or other requirements of the state board or other agency related to the health and safety of students or employees, any requirements imposed by ethics laws or opinions, any requirements imposed by open records or open meetings laws, any requirements related to financial or academic reporting or transparency, or any requirements designed to protect the civil rights of students or employees.

     (i) Revision, Extension and Revocation of Innovation School District Plan:

     (1) The county board of a school system designated as an innovation school district pursuant to this section may revise its innovation school district plan and resubmit its plan to the state board for approval after complying with all other applicable plan requirements set forth in this section for initial plan approval.

     (2) The designation of a school system as an innovation school district shall be for a period of five years. The state board, upon request of the county board, may extend the designation for an additional two years if the school system has outstanding items in its school system collaborative innovation zone plan that it still wants to pursue and only for the purpose of pursuing those outstanding items.

     (3) The state board after periodic review of an established innovation school district may, upon recommendation of the innovation zone application review committee, revoke the school district's designation as an innovation school district for noncompliance or nonperformance.

     (j) Affect of Plan Expiration on Innovations:

     The expiration of a school system's designation as an innovation school district does not negate any exceptions to statutes, policies, rules or interpretations granted to the school system unless and until specifically revoked, repealed or modified by the state board or by the Legislature, as applicable.

     (k) State Board Rule and Annual Reviews:

     The state board shall adopt, in accordance with article three- b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, a rule for the implementation of this section. The state board or its designated committee shall perform annual performance reviews and provide annual reports in accordance with section seven of this article.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2014 1st Special Session
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