McDonnell's charter school plan advances
A Virginia Senate committee overwhelmingly passed Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's education package Thursday, including his proposal to expand the number of charter schools in the state.
The vote virtually ensures passage of the bills in the Democratic-controlled Senate next week and in the General Assembly this year.
The charter school bill is a weakened version of the Republican governor's original proposal.
McDonnell's office worked behind the scenes to negotiate a compromise with groups that represent teachers, school boards and superintendents -- all vocal in their opposition to the bill -- to return some power to the local boards and ease concerns about the state having final control over applications.
The bill would give the state Board of Education a role in advising prospective providers on their applications before they go up for approval before school boards, but the local boards would retain ultimate authority to approve such schools.
The committee also passed bills that would create virtual schools in which students can learn outside traditional classrooms and laboratory schools that would benefit from partnerships with Virginia colleges and universities.
-- Anita Kumar
Charges dismissed in gold burglary case
The collapse of the police investigation into the burglaries of more than 30 homes in Fairfax and Loudoun counties continued Thursday when Loudoun prosecutors dismissed 12 more charges against the two remaining defendants there.
Burglaries targeting pure gold in homes owned by South Asians occurred for months last summer and fall, until three New Yorkers were arrested in November in the Clifton area of Fairfax.