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Gov. McDonnell expresses disappointment in Norfolk lawsuit over failing schools

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Posted at 2:43 PM, Aug 27, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-27 19:43:41-04

Norfolk, Va. - Governor Bob McDonnell made a stop in Norfolk on Tuesday. He visited Lafayette-Winona Middle School, one of two Norfolk schools that have failed to get its accreditation for the past eight years.

The governor visited the school today to express his disappointment that the City of Norfolk is suing to prevent the state from taking over the schools.

Read more, HERE.

Four schools in Virginia have been denied accreditation three years in a row. Under a new law, the schools will be taken over by the state's Opportunity Educational Institution.

Norfolk is joining a lawsuit claiming the state's takeover is unconstitutional, because education is supposed to be left up to local school boards and communities.

Governor McDonnell said the school board should put the money it's using to sue -- into schools and education instead.

"The time for accepting the status quo of failing schools in Virginia is over," Gov. McDonnell said, "If it can't be done at the local level, then the Opportunity school district will step in with either new management, or a contract school, or something else to be able to give these kids better access to the American dream."

A statement sent to NewsChannel 3 from the board chair said, in part, "The School Board of the City of Norfolk fully appreciates the urgent need to improve student achievement across our city, and particularly in schools that have been most challenged by recent increases in state standards. State takeover of our schools is not the answer."

Norfolk's superintendent has already laid out a plan to improve the academically challenged schools by turning them into charter schools. But the governor says the new law means the state can't wait to see if any progress is made.

Right now, only four schools are eligible for the state takeover, but McDonnell says he expects more to join the list now that the state is setting higher standards.

Parents and students at the impacted schools won't be hearing about any possible changes until spring.

The meetings to determine what changes will be implemented at takeover schools won't start until after the first of the year.

But all that could change depending on the outcome of the lawsuit.