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Alexandria Considers Constitutional Challenge To School Takeover

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Jefferson-Houston School in Alexandria is the only school in Northern Virginia that would be taken over as part of the new Opportunity Educational Institution.
Michael Pope
Jefferson-Houston School in Alexandria is the only school in Northern Virginia that would be taken over as part of the new Opportunity Educational Institution.

Leaders in Alexandria are considering a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of a new law that allows a newly created statewide school division to take over troubled schools.

Opponents of the Educational Opportunities Institution have long argued that the effort is unconstitutional because it violates Article 8 Section 5 of the Virginia Constitution, which directs the Virginia Board of Education to divide the commonwealth into geographical areas. Because the new board would be statewide, opponents say, it would violate this provision of the constitution.

Del. Rob Krupicka says there's another potential argument for constitutional challenge.

"One of the justifications for a lawsuit could be slowing down the implementation for this thing so there can be some clarity to how all this is going to play out," Krupicka says.

The Jefferson-Houston School in Alexandria would be one of the first to be taken over under the new legislation. The school has failed accreditation standards in 10 of the last 11 years.

Unless the courts intervene, the takeover would happen next fall.

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