CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Legislature finished Monday passing a much-amended version of the long-debated omnibus education bill, sending it to Republican Gov. Jim Justice, who has said he'll sign it.
Justice's signature of House Bill 206 would open West Virginia to its first charter schools. That would be one of many effects of the sweeping legislation.
The wide-ranging proposal would allow for a staggered implementation of charter schools, limiting the state to three charters until 2023 then letting three more go up every three years after that. It also contains a pay raise for teachers.
The Senate voted 18-16 Monday to pass HB 206, which is similar to legislation (Senate Bill 1039) that senators passed early this month. The House didn't push forward with SB 1039.
Instead, House Republicans last week passed HB 206, which includes some significant departures from SB 1039, like dropping the Senate's anti-strike provisions.
When the Senate received HB 206 Monday, Republicans shot down Democrats' attempts to amend the bill and passed it in the same form the House did.
Republican Sens. Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur, and Kenny Mann, R-Monroe, joined all Senate Democrats in voting no on the final passage vote.
If signed, HB 206 would allow students to attend public schools in counties they don't live in, if the receiving county's board of education approves. The school board of the county losing the student no longer would have the ability to block the transfer.
HB 206 would also raise public school workers' pay and increase public school funding more generally.
County school boards would also be freed to pay teachers in "critically needed" or hard-to-fill subjects and geographic areas more than other teachers.
The bill also would remove a statewide pay-equalizing provision that keeps some counties' pay from greatly exceeding the pay in other counties. Right now, counties can differ to a limited extent.
Teachers who primarily work as certified math teachers would be considered to have three extra years of experience on the state minimum salary schedule, which generally provides annual automatic pay bumps based on years of service.
The same would go for full-time, certified special education teachers.
Each classroom teacher and librarian would get $300 each school year for school supplies, materials or equipment, up from the current $100.
The bill would require the governor to work to expand the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy, a military-like school affiliated with the West Virginia Army National Guard, to a second, unspecified location in Fayette County.
Its current location is at the National Guard's Camp Dawson in Preston County, and officials have said the second site under consideration is the former West Virginia University Institute of Technology campus in Montgomery.
The House of Delegates passed HB 206 51-47 Wednesday.
Voting no were all Democrats plus Republican Delegates Roy Cooper, R-Summers; Mark Dean, R-Mingo; Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock; Tony Paynter, R-Wyoming; Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell; Ruth Rowan, R-Hampshire; and Chris Toney, R-Raleigh.
Not voting were Delegates Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan; and Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton.
Also Monday, Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, sent several other education bills that the House passed last week to the Senate Education Committee.
Education bills normally go through that committee, but the Senate hasn't been using any regular committees during the ongoing special legislative session on education.
Carmichael said the Senate may still pass the bills, but said they could wait until the next regular session, which begins in January.
"We just didn't want to take time this evening," he said.
One of those bills sent to Senate Education was House Bill 158, which would say the state Board of Education would be required to create a rule that holds students accountable for their scores on statewide standardized tests.
The bill would leave it up to the state school board to determine what consequences students would face.
Only Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, voted Monday against suspending state constitutional rules. The rules suspension paved the way for the Senate to have a final vote Monday on the bill.
HUNTINGTON — Every time you think you've seen it all, something random and unexpected seems to pop up for paramedics. It's a reality Cabell County EMS is well acquainted with, especially considering the flurry of bizarre calls generated by the opioid epidemic.
But what happened one Thursday afternoon on an otherwise quiet mid-March day in Salt Rock notched close to the top of the strangest emergencies Darrell Ennis has ever dealt with — indeed a rare distinction coming from a veteran paramedic of 16 years who's given naloxone to hundreds of people.
But never a dog. At least not until Charlie Boy showed up at Cabell EMS Station 5.
"You kind of sit there and think 'Really? I just did this?'" Ennis began, recounting the story from his normal post in EMS Station 6 in Huntington's West End.
"I never thought something like this would happen, and that's the biggest thing — something like that will happen and then you just kind of sit back and think 'Why did this just happen?' ''
It was the middle of a normal weekday, and Ennis was working an extra overtime shift at the Salt Rock station —nearby his house — when a car turned into the lot in front of the station, paused and drove away. It was nothing out of the ordinary, he added; cars turn around there all the time.
Then someone began beating and kicking at the door, screaming for someone to "help my baby."
"At this point I'm thinking "Lord, this is bad," Ennis said, thinking it was a human infant.
But there cradled in the woman's arms, was the limp and near-lifeless Charlie Boy.
At first, Ennis thought the dog had been hit by a car before the woman
explained. She had been cleaning out her house in preparation for her and her husband to move to South Carolina and placed a batch of unused OxyContin — which she had from a previous medical procedure — out on the nightstand. Charlie Boy, acting like any other dog would, decided to chew on the powerful opioid painkillers.
The woman didn't have a car but lived beside a nearby grocery store, pleading with a customer to drop her off at the EMS station when she found the dog had overdosed.
"They always say curiosity killed the cat, but it takes its toll on the dogs, too," Ennis quipped.
It was her idea to use naloxone on Charlie Boy. The overdose reversal drug is now commonly known to revive humans, but Ennis had no idea how to dose a dog.
"I didn't have a clue, and at the point I just thought it couldn't hurt," he continued.
A normal adult dose spraying into Charlie Boy's wet nose revived him after about 90 seconds, and minutes later he was trotting around the station like it never happened.
The woman was still hysterical, but it was tears of joy now. Charlie Boy, she explained, was a rescue pup she had bottle-fed, and even swaddled him to her chest in a sling as she washed dishes. Charlie Boy is the only child the couple had.
"They were so thankful, and Fd never seen anyone act like that," Ennis said. "But I guess to some people, their pets are their kids."
He checked up on Charlie Boy a little over a week later before the family moved out of state. He was happy and healthy, Ennis said, and ornery enough to slip through his leash and run loose in a nearby field as they all chased him.
It's not only become one of the best work stories Ennis can tell, it's one of the only ones. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) does not apply to animals, making the story of Charlie Boy free to share.
Follow reporter Bishop Nash on Twitter at @BIshopNash.
KEEP YOUR PETS SAFE
Tips for keeping pets safe from medications
• Store them out of your pet's reach.
• Do not leave them on tables or nightstands in their reach.
• If you drop any on the floor, immediately pick them up.
• Keep human and pet medications separate.
• Never give pets human medications.
• Contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) in an emergency
Source: Institute for Safe Medication Practices
CHARLESTON — With the goal of increasing transparency and accessibility to the judicial branch, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on Monday released a series of videos to explain the process of obtaining a domestic violence petition.
The four-part video series is available on the West Virginia Judiciary website and its YouTube channel, and the goal of the videos is to make the process a little more clear for people seeking domestic violence petitions, which accounted for 25.8 percent of all filings in magistrate courts throughout West Virginia in 2017, Chief Justice Beth Walker said Monday morning.
The videos are meant to clear up misconceptions and provide an easy-to-understand road map to obtain a petition, Walker said.
"What we're trying to do is make it less intimidating for people," Walker said during a news conference Monday. "It's difficult, as we all know, for domestic violence victims to come forward. Anything we can do to make it a little less scary is what we're hoping to accomplish with these videos."
Justices Tim Armstead, John Hutchinson and Evan Jenkins joined Walker in the Supreme Court chamber to announce the video series.
At least 34 people died as a result of domestic violence in West Virginia between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018, based on data compiled by the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence from media reports.
A person can file a domestic violence petition with the goal of getting a protective order, which identifies people who need to be protected from a specific person or people. The orders also determine what the person accused of domestic violence can or cannot do.
Walker and Joyce Yedlosky, a team coordinator for the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, noted that the process of filing a domestic violence petition and getting a protective order entirely is a separate process from that of a criminal case involving domestic abuse.
"They often think it's part of the criminal justice process, but [the domestic violence petition] is a separate civil process," Yedlosky said. "In the civil process, the petitioner, the person that files, has a little more control over what they're asking for and even in deciding whether or not they want to dismiss it. I think some of those things are cleared up in the video."
There are two options for watching the videos: a single 18-minute explanation, or four individual videos, one for each step in the process. Accompanying the videos is an informational brochure on the Supreme Court's website.
The Supreme Court was able to produce the video using money from a grant from Stop Violence Against Women Grant Program.
"It helps to sort through things because it's very difficult to do that with someone who has just been harmful to you," said Adrienne Worthy, executive director of Legal Aid of West Virginia. "So this civil protection order will help sort out all those things: custody of the children, visitation, child support, who lives in the house, who's going to pay the utilities — all of those things that suddenly are upon someone after a crisis incident like domestic violence."