School Climate & Safety

Accord Reached in Power Struggle Between Va. Board, Local Units

By Jessica L. Sandham — March 12, 1997 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In what appears to be the first case of its kind in the nation, an attempt by the Virginia state board of education to limit the authority of local school boards has ended with a settlement between the state board and the Virginia School Boards Association.

The dispute began last November when the state board adopted a resolution allowing individual local board members to select training sessions for themselves without first getting the approval of their colleagues.

What also concerned VSBA officials was a provision that granted the state board the power to resolve disputes about the validity of the individual members’ chosen training.

Since 1988, state law requires local school board members to take annual training on curriculum and other education matters.

In response to the state board’s action, the VSBA filed a lawsuit in circuit court in Richmond in December, charging that the resolution violated state law by depriving local school boards of their authority to make decisions as a whole.

The settlement, reached late last month, calls for the state board to eliminate the two contested sections of the resolution.

Had the courts ultimately ruled to uphold the resolution, it may have set a precedent for the state to wrest control from local boards, said Frank E. Barham, the executive director of the school boards’ association.

“This is not about training,” Mr. Barham contended. “It’s about the authority of an individual versus the authority of the board. If the minority board member was able to appeal the majority decision in this instance, could they do that in other cases?”

Some observers have speculated that by adopting the resolution, state board members were trying to advance a more conservative agenda.

Politics or Options?

Nationally, Virginia represents the first instance of a state board passing such a resolution, according to August Steinhilber, the general counsel of the National School Boards Association.

“Politics are behind this whole thing,” Mr. Steinhilber asserted. “It would have been a bad precedent for an individual board member to, in effect, have control over a portion of the budget,” he said.

But Michelle Easton, the president of the Virginia state board, maintained that the body adopted the resolution as a way to diversify the options school board members have for their training. Currently, the overwhelming majority of school board members receive their annual training through course offerings at the VSBA’s own academy.

Ms. Easton said that state board members saw the need to make the changes after a poll of association members last summer revealed that some were dissatisfied with the VSBA training. Some cited the cost and scope of conferences as well as what they called the liberal focus of the association in general.

As a part of the settlement, the VSBA has agreed to inform its members that its courses are not the only way by which they can fulfill the state training requirement.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Webinar
Stronger Together: Integrating Social and Emotional Supports in an Equity-Based MTSS
Decades of research have shown that when schools implement evidence-based social and emotional supports and programming, academic achievement increases. The impact of these supports – particularly for students of color, students from low-income communities, English
Content provided by Illuminate Education
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety Oxford School Shooting: Could School Staff Be Charged?
A prosecutor steps up criticism of staff members' decision to allow the accused shooter to stay in school before the deadly shooting.
3 min read
Family, friends, students and relatives of victims put up bouquets of flowers, candles and personalized messages at a memorial near an entrance to the Oxford High School on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021 in Oxford, Mich. A 15-year-old boy has been denied bail and moved to jail after being charged in the Michigan school shooting that killed four students and injured others.
Family, friends, students and relatives of victims put up bouquets of flowers, candles, and personalized messages at a memorial near an entrance to the Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich.
Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP
School Climate & Safety Third Party to Probe School's Actions Ahead of Mich. School Shooting
A third party will investigate events at Oxford High School, the Michigan district's superintendent said.
5 min read
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer embraces Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter as the two leave flowers and pay their respects Thursday morning, Dec. 2, 2021 at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich. A 15-year-old boy has been denied bail and moved to jail after being charged in the Michigan school shooting that killed four students and injured others.(Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP)
School Climate & Safety Explainer: How Unusual Is It to Charge Parents in a School Shooting?
Guns used in U.S. school shootings have often come from the homes of young perpetrators, but parents are rarely charged, experts say.
3 min read
This image from 52-1 District Court shows a Zoom arraignment for Jennifer and James Crumbley in Oakland Co., Mich., on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. The parents of Ethan Crumbley, a teen accused of killing four students in a shooting at Oxford High School, plead not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges. ( 52-1 District Court via AP)
School Climate & Safety Oxford School Shooting: Parents Charged, School's Response Under Scrutiny
The boy's parents failed to intervene, the prosecutor says, despite being confronted with a chilling note that was found at his desk.
4 min read
Waterford resident Andrew Baldwin, cousin of Madisyn Baldwin, places candles at the base of a a memorial with his 5-year-old daughter Ariyah Baldwin on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021 outside of Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich. Madisyn Baldwin, 17, was one of four teens killed in Tuesday's school shooting. A 15-year-old sophomore opened fire at his Michigan high school on Tuesday, killing four students, including a 16-year-old boy who died in a deputy’s patrol car on the way to a hospital, authorities said.
Waterford resident Andrew Baldwin, cousin of Madisyn Baldwin, places candles at the base of a a memorial with his 5-year-old daughter Ariyah Baldwin on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021 outside of Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich. Madisyn Baldwin, 17, was one of four teens killed in Tuesday's school shooting. A 15-year-old sophomore opened fire at his Michigan high school on Tuesday, killing four students, including a 16-year-old boy who died in a deputy’s patrol car on the way to a hospital, authorities said.
Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP