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Northern Va. Delegate Wants Easier Path For New Charter Schools

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By Jonathan Wilson

Virginia currently has only three public charter schools, and a state delegate from Manassas wants to ease the process for new ones.

State Delegate Bob Marshall, a Republican, says it's likely that local school boards, charged with approving new charter schools, are denying qualified applications.

He says its the only way to explain the small number of charter schools in the state.

"We cant believe that all the applications are that deficient," says Marshall.

Marshall is proposing two bills.

One would allow the state to hear appeals of denied public charter school applications.

The second would withhold some funding from school districts found to have denied legitimate applications.

Morton Sherman, Superintendent for Alexandria City Public Schools, says there's a simpler reason why Virginia has fewer charter schools than D.C. and Maryland.

"Often you find charter schools popping up where schools are failing," Sherman says. "You generally dont find that here in Virginia," says Sherman.

Marshall points out that the push for more charter schools is coming from both sides of the political aisle, getting support from Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, and President Obama.

"If you've got Bob McDonnell, Barack Obama and Bob Marshall agreeing on something, either look to the Book of Revelations for the end of the world, or do it," he says.

Marshall hopes to find bipartisan support among the members of the General Assembly.

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