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West Virginia Bill Would Add Parent Members to State Board of Education

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A bill passed by West Virginia's House of Representatives this month would require the state's Board of Education to include two members who are parents of school-age children. 

The original intent of House Bill 2151 was to make the state's teacher of the year a nonvoting member of the West Virginia Board of Education. However Doug Reynolds, a Democratic delegate, amended the bill to include a requirement that at least two of the 12 members on the board be parents of public school students under the board's jurisdiction. The parent members would have to have school-age children when they were appointed.

The governor appoints nine citizens to the board of education with the advice and consent of the state Senate. Currently, the state superintendent of schools, the chancellor of the Higher Education Policy Commission, and the chancellor of West Virginia Council for Community and Technical Education are nonvoting members. The bill easily passed with bipartisan support on Feb. 6 and has moved on to the state Senate for approval.

Any new nine-year appointments to the board would be subject to the state's two-parent-member requirement. According to the West Virginia Board of Education's website, one board member's appointment will end this year and another will end in 2016.

Reynolds, who did not criticize the board's current members, told West Virginia Public Broadcasting that the bill recognizes that parents' opinions are valued.

"I think that parents bring a perspective of what's going on in the schools," Reynolds said in the story, "not necessarily what might not be in those rulebooks and what might be in those policies, but how those policies are affecting kids on a day-to-day basis."

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