100 Va. school boards oppose state takeover board

One hundred school boards across Virginia — more than 75 percent of the total — have passed resolutions in support of a lawsuit challenging a state board approved by the General Assembly last year to take over the most chronically struggling schools in the state.

Under the Opportunity Educational Institution, championed by former governor Robert F. McDonnell, any school that is denied state accreditation or accredited with warning for three consecutive years can be taken into a statewide school district.

The law has been under fire since its inception for challenging the local control that school boards maintain is promised by the state constitution.

“From every corner of the Commonwealth, the message is clear -- violating Virginia’s constitution, taking control of locally owned facilities, and requiring local communities to transfer their school divisions funds to a board with no local connection is unacceptable,” said Gina Patterson, executive director of the Virginia School Board Association, which released a list Tuesday of the school boards that have signed resolutions

“Open communication, collaboration, and cooperation are what are truly needed if we want to help students who are struggling,” she said in a statement.

A lawsuit was filed in August by the state school boards association and the Norfolk City School Board.

Norfolk would be the hardest-hit school district initially — with as many as three schools in jeopardy of a state takeover. In Alexandria, Jefferson Houston School would be eligible for a state takeover.

School boards in Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church cities, and Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties have all signed resolutions supporting the lawsuit.

Michael Alison Chandler writes about schools and families in the Washington region.
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