West Virginia school employees sue over canceled spring break

[image] The Calhoun County School Board has canceled spring breaks within the county and now several school employees are suing.

The Calhoun County School Board has canceled spring breaks within the county and now several school employees are suing.

According to a lawsuit, filed March 10 in Kanawha County Circuit Court, three Calhoun County school employees are asking a judge to grant an immediate injunction to prevent school officials from changing the calendar.

In February school board members voted to change the week of March 17-21 from "out of calendar days" to "instructional" days. However, the lawsuit claims employees found out about the change on March 5, less than three weeks before the break was set to begin.

"The unplanned, abrupt, and contrary to established practice and custom cancellation of spring break caused, or will cause, the following hardships and economic loss to the following individuals," the lawsuit reads.

For example, the lawsuit says Kelly Sampson, an elementary teacher at Arnoldsburg School, bought a non-refundable plane ticket for $757.05.

However, several community members disagree with the lawsuit. Hazel Lanes has two grandchildren in the Calhoun County School system and said she supports the school board's decision to eliminate spring break.

"Kids are first, school is first," said Lanes. "They've missed so much and I think kids are more important."

So far this winter Calhoun County School students have missed 19 days because of bad weather. School board members voted to change spring break to instructional days in order to compensate for the missed classroom time.

Yet the lawsuit argues that "education is enhanced when teachers and students are able to take a scheduled week break in the middle of the second semester. Such break, which occurs approximately after ¾ of the year is finished, is an excellent time for school personnel to re-energize and refocus on the remaining part of the year."

Gloria Jones previously taught English at Calhoun County Middle School. A teacher for 33 years, she said the last thing teachers and students need is another break.

"If they have one more break then Westest is coming up and all of the important, end of the year issues and things that need to be finalized will not get done in an appropriate time," she said.

Calhoun County School Board Interim Superintendent Dan Metz said although he is not allowed to comment since it is an active lawsuit, the school board will do everything to work with those who have conflicts.

Last year the West Virginia Legislature gave county school boards more flexibility to create and alter school calendars. However, that law does not take effect until July.

Andrew Katz, the attorney representing the school employees did not return several phone calls seeking comment for this story.

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