- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2004

RICHMOND (AP) — Officials of failing public schools who refuse to submit and implement improvement plans could wind up in court if the General Assembly approves legislation endorsed yesterday by a Virginia Board of Education committee.

The proposal would allow the State Department of Education to conduct academic reviews of school districts with unaccredited schools. Those divisions would be required to submit blueprints for improvement and make progress toward meeting state standards.

If a division refused to submit to an academic review, the state board could ask a circuit judge to order local school officials to cooperate. The state board also could seek a court order if the division refused to implement its own corrective plan.

“I can’t imagine anyone in Virginia having a problem with court intervention under those circumstances,” said Thomas J. Jackson Jr., president of the state board.

The full board will consider the measure today, one week before the start of the 2004 General Assembly session.

Mr. Jackson, a former state delegate from Carroll County, said a few school divisions are not doing enough to meet state standards, shortchanging students in those localities.

“A handful of divisions have systemic dysfunction that they can’t overcome internally,” Mr. Jackson said after the committee meeting. “It’s going to take our intervention to fix it.”

Fifty-one schools in 24 school divisions are “accredited with warning,” the state’s lowest rating, according to Department of Education figures released in November. Richmond has nine schools on the list, followed by Petersburg with five and Portsmouth with four.

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