McAuliffe Refuses to Appeal OEI Ruling

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced on July 22 that he would not appeal a June 10 ruling that deemed the Opportunity Educational Institution (OEI) unconstitutional.

The OEI, championed by former governor Bob McDonnell (R) and established in 2013, aimed to take control of public schools that failed to meet statewide benchmarks for four years in a row, according to the Times Dispatch. Six schools were slated to come under the OEI’s jurisdiction, but the districts were hesitant due to the ongoing litigation.

Norfolk Circuit Court Judge Charles E. Poston deemed the OEI unconstitutional because only the Board of Education – not the General Assembly – has the authority to establish school divisions under the Virginia Constitution. Therefore, the OEI “is not constitutional because it purports to establish a statewide school division and because it purports to create a school division that is not supervised by a school board,” Poston wrote.

Shortly after the ruling, the OEI’s board asked McAuliffe to consider appealing the case to the Virginia Supreme Court. However, McAuliffe has decided to support the court’s decision and remains hopeful that there is a better way to help failing schools.

“[The state constitution] clearly gives the primary responsibility for educating Virginia children to local school boards across the commonwealth, while assigning the task of overseeing those efforts to the Virginia Board of Education and the superintendent of public instruction,” McAuliffe said. “Unfortunately, the statute that established the OEI altered these relationships in significant and unconstitutional ways.”

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