(6-15-18) A proposal from West Virginia high school principals and athletic directors that asked for a separate class for sports for the eight private schools who are presently members of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission was rejected by the West Virginia State Board of Education yesterday on a 6-1 vote.

The BOE members decided to use an option they have and voted the proposed rule down before it went out to member schools for a 30-day comment period. This happened despite a  WVSSAC members vote during the spring in favor of the proposal 100-24 or 81%.

Not every state operates the same, in West Virginia the state athletic association is controlled by the State Board of Education who has the final say in these matters.

The 81% who voted yes were chastised by both sides and that has to be very disappointing to those member schools, especially the lack of support from their own Executive Director.

In a Metro News story:

West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission Executive Director Bernie Dolan

“They want to put them in their own class, personally I spoke against it. I had my legal counsel come and speak against it and they still voted it in (as a proposal).”

State School Superintendent Dr. Steve Paine said he had talked with several school officials-

“They don’t expect you to approve it. They expect it to go down. I don’t know why they brought it up.”

“Sometimes they (SSAC member schools) think they should be the law of the land but that section of code indicates that ultimate approval of their rules rests with the state Board of Education”

In the same Metro News story, State Department of Education General Counsel Heather Hutchens

“This rule would only affect eight schools, there would only be eight schools in the classification and all of those schools are religiously-affiliated schools, which I think it makes it certainly look as though we are treating them differently because of that even if that wasn’t the intention.”

Hutchens did not give any examples of legal problems that have happened in other states.

Here are some examples in other states facing the private vs. public issue around the US.

Louisiana has faced several confrontations recently battling over this issue. The legislature tried to pass a bill to stop a split, but it failed. The controversy continues to be a top issue in the state.

While Illinois has in place a success factor that effects only private schools, including a multiplier, to this point no legal action has taken place because of those rulings.

There are several states who have separate associations, North Carolina and Texas are two of those states.

Did you know…

  • All eight private schools are in Class A (433 or fewer students), smallest of the three classes


  • Wheeling Central
  • Charleston Catholic
  • Greater Beckley Christian
  • Notre Dame (Clarksburg)
  • St. Joseph i(Huntington)
  • Parkersburg Catholic
  • Trinity Christian (Morgantown)
  • Madonna (Weirton)


  • There are 46 public schools (85%) in Class A, 8 private schools (15%)
  • Private schools have won 28 girls basketball state championships in the last 31 years; 12 girls softball and 18 girls tennis championships in the last 22 years and in the last 20 years 17 boys basketball, 11 football, 10 baseball, 16 boys golf and 16 boys tennis championships
  • Tolsia High School submitted the proposals for the separate private school division

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