Thursday, February 2, 2012

McDonnell Hits a Speed Bump

Today was a long one. My first subcommittee assingment began at 7:30 and the last one ended at 8:30. But, it was a very good day for the VEA lobby effort.

Governor McDonnell’s bill to take continuing contract rights from Virginia’s teachers hit a speed bump this evening in the Teachers and Administrative Action Subcommittee of the House Education Committee. The Governor’s bill, HB 576 is being carried by Delegate “Dickie” Bell.

One of VEA’s staff attorneys, Milton Brown, began doing legal research on the question of whether or not a state can by statute take continuing contract away once it has been granted. He found extensive case-law indicating that continuing contract is a “property right” and that it cannot be taken away without just cause and due process.

We developed a series of questions regarding the legality of the Governor’s proposal and met with Delegate Jennifer McClellan to discuss the issue. McClellan is sharp as tack, and she took the ball and ran with it. When McClellan questioned the legality of the bill, the counsel to the committee confirmed her assertion that teachers on continuing contract are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

The discussion of the bill went on for one hour and forty minutes, and to say the bill is in a bit of trouble is an understatement. The committee will seek a legal opinion from the Attorney General.

The subcommittee will return to consideration of the bill at 7:30 on Tuesday morning. The committee members are:

LeMunyon (Chairman), Cole, Robinson, Yost, Yancey, McClellan, Morrissey, Keam
We need to make sure they get calls urging them to oppose HB 576.

Click here for a list of the phone numbers of House members.