RICHMOND — Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II will not defend one of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s marquee education reforms against a looming legal challenge, saying he believes that legislation allowing the state to take over failing schools is unconstitutional.
Cuccinelli (R) said he supports the goal of the Opportunity Educational Institution, created by the General Assembly this year to take control of persistently failing schools. But he also said his office cannot defend it against a lawsuit that the Virginia School Boards Association and the Norfolk City School Board are preparing to file in Norfolk Circuit Court.
Cuccinelli’s letter was dated Aug. 27, the same day that McDonnell (R) traveled to a Norfolk middle school to tout the reform measure and vow to fight the threatened suit.
“Attorney General Cuccinelli certainly supports efforts to turn failing schools around,” spokesman Brian J. Gottstein said. “However, his legal analysis shows that, unfortunately, this law goes about it in a way that is unconstitutional. The Virginia Constitution states – and the courts have affirmed – that the supervision of public schools must remain with their local school districts.”