July 15, 1993
Hon. Kevin Noland
Office of Legal Services
Kentucky Department of Education
Capital Plaza Tower
Frankfort, KY 40601
Dear Mr. Noland:
As the General Counsel for the Department of Education, you have requested an Attorney General's Opinion to interpret the following provision of KRS 160.345(2)(j):
The school council shall adopt a policy to be implemented by the principal in the following additional areas:
1. . . .
2. Assignment of all instructional and non-instructional staff time . . . .
In your opinion request letter you state there is a lack of clarity and consensus as to the extent of the school council's authority relative to assignment of staff time. You state that one interpretation of this statute is this provision authorizes the school council to set policy relative to the use of staff time during the school day, such as the number of classes teachers will teach, use of planning periods, and policies relative to assignment of additional duties, but not authority to make assignments as to specific individuals. Under this interpretation, the school council sets the policy to be implemented and administered by the principal who assigns specific individual staff.
You state that another interpretation is that this statutory provision authorizes the school council to not only include in its policy general assignment policies, but also to make assignments as to individual staff, i.e., "name names."
It is the opinion of the Attorney General that your first interpretation is correct and that school councils have authority to set policy regarding the assignment of all instructional and non-instructional staff time and the principal is authorized to administer the policy and to make assignments as to individual staff members. Our opinion is based on KRS 160.345, the School-Based Decision Making statute. Specifically, the SBDM statute grants the principal the responsibility to implement school council policies. KRS 160.345(2)(j). This statute clearly provides that the school council is the policy-making arm of the school and the principal shall be the "primary administrator" and the "instructional leader" of the school. KRS 160.345(2)(c).
In interpreting the meaning of the "policy" making power granted to the school council we are guided by the rule of statutory construction that unless there is language in the statute plainly indicating a contrary interpretation, the usual and ordinary meaning of the words will be utilized. KRS 446.080(4). Green v. Moore, Ky., 135 S.W.2d 682 (1939).
Policy matters are generally thought of as "rules of conduct." State College Education Association v. Pennsylvania Labor Rel. Bd., 306 A.2d 404, 412 (Penn. 1973). Policy matters involve managing the affairs of a business and making decisions that determine the direction that the business or operation shall pursue. Id. Thus, the school council is vested with the broader managerial role of determining policy in the area of staff assignments. The school council's duties do not require that the council determine the specific assignments for all staff members. Rather, the statute mandates that the principal must implement the staff assignment policy adopted by the council. KRS 160.345(2)(j).
The distinction between the school council's responsibility to set policy and the principal's duty to administer the policy is legally sound especially in the area of assignment of staff members. Decisions to assign specific teachers to particular students and classes are based on several factors including the performance and effectiveness of the staff. This information may be contained in the evaluations of the teacher and available to the school principal. KRS 156.101; 704 KAR 3:345.
In summary, it is the duty of the principal to handle the day-to-day administration of the school and to follow the policies adopted by the school council. We believe that this division of power between the policy-making and the administrative branches of the school is conducive to the efficient operation of our schools and is legally consistent with the Kentucky Education Reform Act.
Assistant Attorney General