Monroe teachers too quick to sue over class sizes, Board of Education says

By John O'Brien | Oct 16, 2013

UNION – The Monroe County Board of Education says five third-grade teachers who complained about the sizes of their classes did not seek the proper administrative relief before filing a lawsuit.

On Oct. 3, the board moved to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Karen Bowden, Christine Cardinal, Ann Jamison, Jhanna Lively and Bonnie Walsh three weeks earlier in Monroe Circuit Court.

The teachers alleged the maximum teacher-pupil ratio allowed by statute has been exceeded.

All of the teachers have 26 students. The statute allows for 25, they say.

“Here, the Plaintiffs seek to force the BoE to comply with (state law),” the motion to dismiss says.

“Specifically, Plaintiffs seek to require the BoE to limit their class sizes to 25 students per teacher. (The Public Employees Grievance Procedure) has the jurisdiction and ability to rule on this issue, and in fact, has done so in the past.

“Thus, Plaintiffs have an administrative remedy available through PEGP for their claims. Thus, this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear Plaintiffs’ claims because Plaintiffs have failed to exhaust their administrative remedies through that procedure.”

According to the complaint, Cardinal, Lively and Walsh teach third grade at Peterstown Elementary School with 26 students each and Bowden and Jamison teach third grade at Mountain View Elementary School with 26 students each.

The complaint claims that the Monroe County Board of Education has paid the plaintiffs extra compensation for extra students in their classrooms while claiming that it is lawful to exceed the maximum number of students as long as extra compensation is paid.

The plaintiffs are seeking a declaratory judgment against the Monroe County Board of Education to the effect that it has and continues to violate state statute, bar the board from assigning students in excess of the maximum ratio and an award of attorney’s fees and costs.

They are being represented in the case by William D. Turner of Richardson Law Firm, PLLC.

The Monroe Board of Education is represented by Jason S. Long and Katherine B. Capito of Dinsmore & Shohl.

A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 18.

From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at

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