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The state of Virginia is set to take over six failing schools in August, but the organization tasked with reforming the schools hasn't been able to make initial assessments. That's because the Opportunity Educational Institution or OEI has been put on hold pending a judge's ruling in a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.
The initiative passed during the McDonnell administration aims to rehabilitate the schools after traditional methods failed to help them achieve basic academic benchmarks for four consecutive years. While OEI's board members have delayed proceeding, the board's Chair, Senator Ryan McDougle, says regardless of the judge's ruling, someone has to create an improvement plan to give these students a better education.
"Everyone is in agreement that that is not occurring, so whatever we need to do, that needs to be the focus," he says.
McDougle says some have questions about whether there will be mass firings at these schools under the OEI, but the board is planning a different strategy.
"It doesn't mean there aren't going to be strategic changes, but you're going to have to have a lot of the same people," he says.
McDougle says they have been in a holding pattern pending the lawsuit’s outcome. But to help put parents at ease, OEI’s executive director, Jason Sears, has been instructed to establish a presence and dialogue with parents at events such as PTA meetings.