Chapter V: Personnel Policies

Policies contained herein set forth provisions for initial and continuous employment of all personnel of the Smyth County school division. In addition to policies established by the Smyth County School Board, the school division shall comply with all applicable State and Federal laws and regulations.

These policies shall be administered by the superintendent, who shall be responsible for the appropriate recruitment, staffing, and employee relations of personnel of the Smyth County School Division and shall maintain a personnel file system for all employees of the school division.

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5.13: Professional Contracts: Licensed Personnel (VR 270-01-0042.1)

Written contracts shall be made by the school board with each teacher, administrator, or supervisor employed by it, except those temporarily employed as substitute teachers, before such employee assumes his or her duties. Contracts will be in the form prescribed by the State Board of Education, with special covenants added by the local school board as appropriate. Contracts shall be signed in duplicate, with a copy thereof furnished to both parties.

The following definitions shall apply in this policy:

Only persons regularly employed full time by a school board as licensed personnel shall be eligible for continuing contract status.

A probationary term of service of three years in the same school division is required prior to the issuance of a continuing contract. Once a continuing contract status has been attained in a school division elsewhere in Virginia, a one year probationary period shall be served in the Smyth County school division prior to the issuance of a continuing contract. A licensed professional holding probationary contract status in another school division in the state shall be required to serve a three-year probationary term in the Smyth County school division prior to the issuance of a continuing contract.

A person employed as an administrator or supervisor, including a person who has previously achieved continuing contract status as a teacher, shall serve three years in such position in the Smyth County school division before acquiring continuing contract status as an administrator or supervisor. Continuing contract status acquired by an administrator or supervisor shall not be construed as prohibiting the school board from reassigning the administrative or supervisory personnel to a teaching position if notice of reassignment is given by the school board by April 15 of any year. If an administrator or supervisor is reassigned to a teaching position, such reassignment shall be to continuing contract status.

In calculating probationary terms of service for teachers, administrators, and supervisors, employment for 180 or more teaching days during one school year shall constitute a single year of service. If a teacher, administrator, or supervisor separates from service during his or her probationary period and does not return to service in the same school division by the beginning of the year following the year of separation, such person shall be required to begin a new probationary period.

If a teacher who has attained continuing contract status separates from service and does not return to teaching in Virginia public schools for a period longer than two years, such person shall be required to begin a new three-year probationary period. Teaching service outside of the Virginia Public School System shall not be counted as meeting in whole or in part the required probationary term.

Continuing contracts may be executed in behalf of persons holding a valid postgraduate, collegiate professional, or vocational certificate.

The contractual period is that prescribed by the State Board of Education. A 200-day contractual period shall include:

  1. One-hundred and eighty teaching days.
  2. Ten days minimum for such activities as teaching, planning for the opening of school, evaluation, completing records and reports incident to the closing of each semester or school year, committee assignments, and conferences as defined by the school board.
  3. Ten days for the continuation of activities above and/or such other activities as may be assigned or approved at the discretion of the school board. These days are subject to optional use as determined by the school board.

Individual teaching contracts may be extended beyond the standard 200 day contract period as the need for instructional personnel is determined by the school board. Supervisors and administrators shall be contracted for ten (10), eleven (11), or twelve (12) months or for a specified number of work days as determined by the school board.

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5.15: Reprimand, Suspension, Demotion or Dismissal (22.1-294, 22.1-295, 22.1-303 through 315)

The Smyth County School Board may reprimand, suspend, demote or dismiss an employee for reasonable cause including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. Absence without notification; excessive absence or tardiness; abuse of illness leave privileges;
  2. Discourteous, offensive or abusive conduct or language toward other employees, students or the public;
  3. Unethical or obscene actions, gestures or statements toward other employees, students or any other person while on division property, during working hours, or at any time and place to the extent the conduct may adversely affect the operations of the division or the employee's fitness to perform his or her duties;
  4. Dishonesty, including violations of the Virginia Conflict of Interest Act.
  5. Possessing, using, transmitting, addiction to or being under the influence of any narcotic drug, hallucinogenic drug, amphetamine, barbiturate, marijuana, alcoholic beverage, chemical, controlled substance or intoxicant of any kind not prescribed by a physician, while on duty or while on division property at any time as an employee;
  6. Falsifying any information supplied to the school division including, but not limited to, information supplied on application forms, employment records or any other school division records;
  7. Incompetency or inefficiency in the performance of duties including, but not limited to, failure to follow or carry out instructions or failure to perform a job assignment in a satisfactory manner; For the purpose of this policy, "incompetency" is defined as "including consistent failure to meet the endorsement requirements for the position or performance that is documented through evaluation to be consistently less than satisfactory."
  8. Insubordination including, but not limited to, refusal to promptly perform assigned work;
  9. Failure to possess a valid driver's license when it is a requirement of the position;
  10. Failure to follow division policies, safety regulations, procedures or practices or failure to report conditions or situations which could be injurious to personnel or equipment;
  11. Provoking, instigating or participating in a fight or scuffle on division property or while on duty;
  12. Temporary or permanent removal, use or possession of division property without proper authorization;
  13. Conduct by an employee at any time or in any place which may adversely affect the health, safety or welfare of students or personnel, the operation of the division or the employee's fitness to perform his or her duties.
  14. Conviction of a criminal offense as outlined in 5.18 of this policy manual.
  15. Refusal to submit to drug and alcohol testing as prescribed under the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act and Virginia Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration regulations.
  16. Inappropriate use of school property, such to include credit cards, charge accounts and/or abuse of fiduciary responsibility.
  17. Violation of the confidentiality provisions contained in policy section 5.58.

School Bus Drivers

The Smyth County School Board will maintain zero tolerance for inappropriate action taken by school bus drivers, and/or the failure of a school bus driver to take appropriate action, such creating an environment in which students safety is threatened, or a risk to public safety is created.

Additional grounds for dismissal of a school bus driver will include, although not necessarily limited to the following:

  1. Conviction of driving in excess of the legal speed limit for buses.
  2. Conviction of operating a school bus in a reckless manner.
  3. Leaving a student on board a bus due to failure to complete the post-trip inspection.
  4. Involvement in an accident for which failure to perform the required pre-trip inspection was a contributing factor.
  5. Failure to promptly and appropriately report any accident, incident, or situation in which a student may have sustained an injury while a passenger on a school bus, or in which property damage has occurred.
  6. Conviction of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

All provisions of Section 5.15 will continue to apply to bus drivers just as to all school board employees.

Written notice must be provided to an employee stating the reasons for disciplinary action.

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5.20: Uniform Hiring of Teachers (VR 270-01-0042.1)

Phase One covers employment sought for the next school year and covers the period from the beginning of the current school year to the close of business on April 14 of the current school year. The end of the phase on April 14 corresponds to the provisions of Section 22.1-304 of the Code of Virginia allowing written notice of non-continuation of contract by April 15. If April 14 ends on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the end of Phase One will be the last administrative working day prior to the Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

During phase one, a teacher may apply and be interviewed for employment for the next school year in other school divisions without notice to or permission from the Smyth County School Board.

During phase one, a teacher accepting employment in another division for the next school year must resign by giving written notice to the Smyth County School Board. The notice should specify that the resignation is applicable for the next school year only.

Phase Two begins on April 15 and ends of May 31 or the date the teacher contract is final, whichever is later. The contract is final when the date of signature and, at a minimum, the salary terms are finally known.

During Phase Two, teachers, whether probationary or continuing contract, may seek employment and file applications for the next school year with other school divisions. Teachers may seek employment during this phase without notification to the Smyth County School Board.

During Phase Two, the prospective employer may offer a contract without proof of release from contract from the Smyth County School Board. The teacher must obtain a written release from the contract with the current employer prior to signing a contract with the prospective employer. Releases should be liberally granted during this phase.

Phase Three begins on June 1 or the date the salary is finally set by the local school board, whichever occurs later. In Phase Three, the contract is a firm and binding obligation on the teacher and the school division.

During Phase Three, teachers may seek employment and file applications for the next school year with other school divisions; however, a prospective employer should not offer a contract to any teacher during Phase Three until the teacher has secured a written release from the contract with the Smyth County School Board, and a teacher should not accept a contract until a written release has been secured.

The Smyth County School Board at its discretion, may release a teacher from the contract. The Board will release teachers for good cause.

Good cause is determined by the Smyth County School Board. It should reflect a consideration of all the factors affecting both the employee and the school board. Factors in determining good cause may include the employee's reason for leaving, contractual terms and agreements, and the overall effect of the resignation on the employee and the school division.

In the event the Smyth County School Board declines to grant a request for release from a contract on the grounds of insufficient or unjustifiable cause, and the teacher breaches or expresses an intent to breach the contract, the school board may, within 30 days of the breach, file a petition with the Board of Education setting forth all the facts in the case and requesting that the teacher's license be suspended for the next school year or apply other remedies appropriate under law or contract.

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5.31: Virginia Education Association Delegates

Professional leave may be granted by the superintendent for a maximum of two days for elected delegates to the annual convention of the Virginia Education Association. The location of the meeting and the convention schedule will determine the amount of time approved.

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5.34: Conflict of Interest (Code of Virginia 2.1-629.4)

School property, equipment, personnel, and students shall be used only for activities that promote and enhance the educational program of the Smyth County School Board and shall not be used for activities that result in personal gain for employees of the school system.

Employees of the school system shall not solicit or accept money or other things of value for services performed within the scope of their official duties, except the compensation, expenses or other remuneration paid by the Smyth County School Board. Violation of the Virginia Conflict of Interest Act may be cause for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

5.35: Employee Benefits

The board shall provide all employees with those benefits required by law and may offer additional benefit programs to full-time employees as determined by the board and within legal restriction and interpretation thereof.

For voluntary programs, the Board shall determine the amount of premium or contributions to be paid by the employer from Board funds and by the employee through payroll deduction.

Unless otherwise provided for by governmental statue or provisions of school board policy, an employee will not be eligible for employer-paid benefits while on unpaid leave if such leave exceeds ten (10) days in any given month.

For purposes of this policy, an employee who is not receiving compensation from the Smyth County School Board is considered to be unpaid leave regardless of whether or not the employee is receiving payments from sources such as workers compensation or disability income programs.

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5.37: Tuition - Staff Development/Relicensure

The Smyth County School Board will pay the tuition for professional personnel taking graduate-level classes for relicensure and staff development purposes under the following conditions:

  1. One three-hour graduate level course during the five year renewal period per professional employee.
  2. Courses approved by the superintendent for specific identified needs of the school system and/or staff development.
  3. Courses will be either those offered in Smyth County or those offered by the Abingdon Center of The University of Virginia.
  4. Any exception to this policy will require prior approval of the superintendent.

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5.41: Family and Medical Leave Policy (Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993)

The Smyth County School Board will provide eligible employees up to twelve weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons as provided for by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. Employees are eligible if they have worked for at least one year and for 1,250 hours over the previous twelve months.

The one year period within which an employee may take twelve weeks unpaid leave under provisions of the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 is defined as the twelve-month period since the beginning employee’s last exercise of leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. The employee may therefore take no more than twelve weeks family or medical leave within any twelve month time period.

Unpaid leave will be granted for any of the following reasons: to care for the employee's child after birth, adoption, or foster care placement; to care for the employee's spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition; or for a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to work.

The employee will provide thirty (30) days advance notice if the leave is "foreseeable." The employee must furnish medical certification to support a request for leave because of a serious health condition and a medical "fitness for duty" report to return to work.

Employees will be entitled to job benefits and protection while on FMLA leave. For the duration of FMLA leave the employer will maintain the employee's health coverage under the group health plan and will continue to pay its share of the premium payment as if the employee were not on leave. An employee who chooses to maintain coverage must continue to pay the share of health plan premiums required of working employees. Upon return from FMLA leave employees will be restored to their original or equivalent positions with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms. The use of FMLA leave will not result in the loss of any employment benefit that accrued prior to the start of an employee's leave.

The school board and its administrative staff will not interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of any right provided under FMLA. Neither will the employer discharge or discriminate against any person for opposing any practice made unlawful by FMLA or for involvement in any proceeding under or relating to FMLA.

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5.43: Jury Duty/Court Subpoena

Leave with pay shall be granted if an employee is called to serve on jury duty, or subpoenaed to attend court pertaining to school board business. Payment made for jury service will be returned to the county. Payment made for travel will be retained by the employee.

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5.45: Sabbatical Leave

The Smyth County School Board may grant an academic year sabbatical leave to licensed personnel.

Acceptable Purposes

  1. Full time study in a planned program.
  2. Related work in education which would enhance the employee's professional credentials.
  3. Full time approved educational travel.
  4. Accompany spouse who may be on sabbatical leave.

Provisions

  1. Must be a tenured teacher/administrator with three consecutive years experience in Smyth County.
  2. No salary while on sabbatical.
  3. Return to same, comparable, or better position.
  4. May continue health insurance coverage at the employee's expense.
  5. One year of experience granted for salary purposes.
  6. All requests in writing with supporting documentation (e.g., statement of acceptance into planned program) to superintendent by May 15 preceding academic year sabbatical requested.
  7. Sabbatical leave must be recommended by the superintendent and approved by the school board.

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5.48: Drug-Free Workplace Policy

The unlawful manufacture, dispensing, possession, use, and/or distribution of alcohol and illicit drugs, including anabolic steroids by an employee of the Smyth County School Board is prohibited.

Drug-Free Awareness

Drug abuse in the workplace has major adverse effects on the welfare of all citizens of the United States, and it results in lost productivity each year. Employees who use illegal drugs have three to four times more accidents while at work.

Employees with drug abuse problems are encouraged to seek help. Employees desiring more information on the dangers of drug abuse in the workplace and those employees needing drug counseling, rehabilitation, or other employee assistance should contact any of the following for assistance.

  1. Alcohol/Narcotics Anonymous 783-9005
  2. Smyth County Community Hospital 782-1234
  3. Smyth County Health Department 781-7460
  4. Smyth County Mental Health Clinic 783-8185
  5. Transitions 783-9005

Employees will be referred to the appropriate resource for available counseling, rehabilitation or other assistance.

Notice of Potential Personnel Action for Illegual Drug Use On-the-Job

Penalties may be imposed upon employees for drug use violations occurring in the workplace.

  1. The superintendent shall request that a drug screening test be performed on any employee who demonstrates reasonable suspicion to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the workplace. Failure to comply with this request or a positive determination of drug use will result in the appropriate personnel action up to and including termination.
  2. Employees must notify this employer of any criminal drug statute conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace no later than five days after such conviction. The Smyth County School Board certifies that it will notify any agency requiring a drug-free workplace certification, within ten days after receiving such notice, either from an employee or otherwise, of such a conviction.
  3. Within 30 days of receiving notice of any criminal drug statute conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace, The Smyth County School Board will take appropriate personnel action against such employee, up to and including termination; or within 30 days of receiving notice of any criminal drug statute conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace, the board may require such employee to participate satisfactorily in a drug abuse assistance or rehabilitation program approved for such purposes by a federal, state, or local health, law enforcement, or other appropriate agency.

Employee Assistance

Employees voluntarily seeking assistance for a substance abuse problem will not be disciplined as a result of their disclosure of prior drug or alcohol use and treatment by a substance abuse specialist will be handled in confidence. An employee may not avoid discipline for violation of the drug-free workplace policy by participating in a treatment program unless he or she does the following:

  1. Volunteers for such treatment prior to being confronted by a supervisor concerning violation of the drug-free workplace policy.
  2. Successfully adheres to requirements of and completes the prescribed treatment program.
  3. Does not thereafter engage in conduct violating this policy regarding use of alcohol, illegal drugs, and unauthorized prescription drugs.

In the case of employees returning to work after successful completion of a treatment program, the school system reserves the right to test for controlled substances and alcohol on a random or periodic basis, for one year after the employee's return to work.

5.49: Drug and Alcohol Testing (Omnibus Transportation Employer Testing Act)

Drivers of school buses and other school owned vehicles shall be subject to the drug testing program prescribed under the Omnibus Transportation Testing Act and Virginia Department of Highway and Federal Highway Administration regulations. A copy of this program shall be given to all employees authorized to drive school buses and other school vehicles and to the supervisors of such drivers.

Interpretation and training in the application of this program shall be provided by the superintendent or designee. Refusal to submit to such testing will be grounds for dismissal.

A copy of the drug and testing program is found in the appendix section of this manual.

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5.51: Compensation For Substitute Personnel

After ten (10) consecutive working days as a substitute for a specific employee on extended leave, the substitute will receive the level of compensation to which he/she, based on certification, would earn as a full-time, regular employee at step zero (0) on the current Smyth County School Board Pay Scale. The substitute, as a temporary employee, will not be entitled to any additional benefits to which regular, full-time employees are entitled, except as prescribed by law.

5.52: Employee Dress Policy Statement

The Smyth County School Board, in keeping with its philosophy of providing quality education and encouraging professional staff to present themselves as role models, hereby establishes a standard of dress which requires each employee of the school system to dress appropriately for the position and/or activity in which she/he is engaged. Staff will dress in a manner as to avoid any health or safety problems or any disruption to the educational process.

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5.54: Performance and The Salary Scale

An employee whose performance is adjudged to be unsatisfactory will not be advanced to the next step on the scale. If the employee was already at the top step on the scale, the employee would be reduced to the next lower step.

An employee not already at the top scale or the next to last step, whose performance is adjudged to be exemplary, will be advanced two steps on the scale. An employee already at the next to last step would be advanced to the highest step.

5.55: Employee Identification Badges

In order to secure compliance with the requirements of the Virginia School Safety Audit and as a security measure, each school employee will be issued an identification badge.

This badge is to be worn by all employees at all times while working on school board property. The identification badge will also be used when making on-site school board and/or school-related purchases. Additionally, the identification badge will be necessary for the employee to be admitted free of charge to events in which students participate and are sponsored by any of the schools in the Smyth County school district.

5.56: Disability Retirement Under Virginia Retirement System

An employee who is certified by a physician as unable to work due to a disability, such disability qualifying for retirement under Virginia Retirement System disability determination, should be allowed use of no more than 60 days of accumulated sick leave prior to the effective date of disability retirement under Virginia Retirement System provisions.

Additional accumulated sick leave shall be compensated at the per diem amount set by the school board to be paid to an employee eligible for non-disability related service retirement.

5.57: Group Health/Dental Insurance For Retired Employees

The retired employee must have a minimum of fifteen (15) years service under the Virginia Retirement System and must be receiving a monthly defined benefit payment under Virginia Retirement System guidelines.

Termination of Membership

The retired employee’s membership in the group health and dental insurance plan will terminate at the time the employee becomes eligible for Medicare.

Dependent Coverage

A dependent enrolled in the group health plan at the time of retirement of the employee, or a dependent added at a later time due to a qualifying event, may continue on the plan during such time as the retired employee remains a member of the plan, until such dependent is eligible for Medicare.

A dependent may remain on the plan, at such time as a qualifying event results in removal of the retired employee from plan membership. The time period will be as provided under COBRA guidelines for dependents of an active employee whose membership in the plan is terminated by a qualifying event.

Cost of Coverage

The Smyth County School Board will not contribute toward the cost of insurance coverage for retired employees, other than as actuarially determined by the Virginia Retirement System as the school board’s contribution to insurance credit issued to retired employees by the Virginia Retirement System.

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5.59: Maternity Leave

Paid sick leave is for the purpose of providing covered employees with salary continuation when the employee is medically unable to report to work, or due to illness or death in the immediate family.

Maternity leave is covered by sick leave, as is any other medical condition, which would render the employee unable to report to work.

The Smyth County School Board reserves the right to request medical documentation for an absence of more than five (5) consecutive days. The superintendent of schools is empowered to act on behalf of the board in this regard.

The standard period of time for which an employee will be granted paid sick leave for maternity is six calendar weeks from the date-of-birth for a normal delivery and eight calendar weeks for Caesarian delivery.

If sick leave beyond the standard period of time for maternity is requested, the principal or supervisor will ask the employee to furnish medical documentation that she is medically unable to return to work and submit a copy of the physician’s statement to the payroll office.

As with any other personal illness, paid leave for maternity will be granted if the employee has sufficient sick leave on balance. Otherwise, unpaid leave will be granted.

Under provisions of the family and medical leave policy, an employee will be granted additional unpaid leave, above and beyond the period that the physician specifies for maternity leave, to care for the employee’s child after birth. The employee will provide thirty days advance notice if the leave is foreseeable.

Upon the child’s birth, someone from the family (or someone on the family’s behalf) must contact the Payroll Department at 276-783-8865 ext. 237 or 271 to report the date of birth. This information is needed to properly track maternity leave and to assist with any insurance issues that may arise.

If the employee is not currently insured through the Smyth County School Board’s group health and dental plans, she may apply for coverage within 31 days of the birth of the child.

If the employee is currently insured through the Smyth County School Board’s group health and dental plans, and intends to add the child to her policy, she must do so within 31 days of birth. During this time period the employee also has the option of changing from one plan to another. The employee will be responsible for payment of any additional premiums associated with policy additions or changes.