Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today House Bill 2151 has passed in the House of Delegates.
This legislation, known as the “Educator Fairness Act” is a heavily amended version of the Teacher Contract legislation that Delegate Bell presented last year.
House Bill 2151 makes a number of changes to the processes to which teachers are evaluated and to the grievance process. It requires teachers and administrators to be evaluated every year, either informally or formally, and includes student academic progress as a component. The legislation includes a measure that gives local school boards the option of extending the probationary process for a new teacher from three to five years to allow more time to evaluate performance. It does not, however, eliminate the continuing contract.
Perhaps most importantly, the legislation streamlines the grievance process for teachers by making a series of changes to the hearing process. It includes a shortened timeframe and the appointment of a single impartial hearing officer instead of a three-member panel. This hearing officer will preside over an administrative hearing, and issue a written recommendation to the school board. The grievance procedure will allow for an expedited decision to inform the teacher regarding their employment status. Additionally, the passage of this legislation will result in a 2% raise for teachers.
This legislation is the result of a collaborative effort of all stakeholders, and was supported by the Virginia Education Association, Virginia School Boards Association, Virginia Association of Superintendents, the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals, and the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals. Additionally it gained the support of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership.
“I am extremely pleased to see this legislation pass in the House of Delegates with bipartisan support. We began working on this bill immediately following the 2012 Session, and had extensive meetings with a number of stakeholders. The extensive involvement of the education community has helped make this legislation possible. ” said Delegate Bell. “Through their cooperation and advice, we have put forth a piece of legislation that will place great emphasis on enhancing the quality of our teachers. It will allow Virginia to recruit and retain the best educators, and ensure that our educational system continues to rank among the nation’s best. Additionally, it is a step in the right direction for treating and paying educators like the professionals that they are. I am pleased with the actions of the House, and I am hopeful that this legislation will continue to gain support as it moves over to the State Senate.”
House Bill 2151 was initially referred to the Teachers and Administrative Action subcommittee of the Education committee where it was reported out with a vote of 8-0. It was then reported out of the full committee with a vote of 17-0. It passed in the House today with a vote of 84-14.
Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th District, which includes Highland County, portions of Augusta and Nelson Counties, and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro. He is currently serving in his 2nd term.