Cuccinelli tells Governor to find another lawyer to defend education policy

Posted at 11:36 PM, Sep 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-04 06:33:32-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--At an evening campaign stop in south Richmond Tuesday, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli talked education from the library of Elkhardt Middle School.

"All children deserve the opportunity to attend a quality school,” said Cuccinelli.

About five minutes in to Cuccinelli’s presentation,  his office sent out a media release explaining Cuccinelli's stance on another education issue.

Attached was a letter Cuccinelli recently sent to Governor Bob McDonnell declining to defend an education policy of the Governor that has recently become the subject controversial lawsuit.

"We notified them that we wouldn't be defending it because in our legal analysis that’s not something we can do appropriately," said Cuccinelli Tuesday night as he was left the event.

The Attorney General refused to defend McDonnell's education policy on closing failing schools. The General Assembly passed the bill in 2013 and it took effect in July.

The law contends that after schools repeatedly fail to meet accreditation standards a board at the state level can take over. The current governor stands by it.

However, Cuccinelli believes the law is unconstitutional and that public schools should be managed by local school districts. Cuccinelli does have the authority to remove himself from the case and has suggested the governor find another lawyer to defend the case.

"That's the appropriate next step that's why we sent them that letter so they can do that," said Cuccinelli.

Tuesday, Tucker Martin, Spokesperson for Governor Bob McDonnell, responded to the announcement and confirmed that the Governor does plan to appoint special counsel, and firmly believes his legislation is in the best interest of Virginia students.

“The governor strongly believes every child in Virginia deserves to go to a great school, regardless of their zip code. If it takes beating a lawsuit to make sure that’s the case, then we’re more than ready to do that," said Martin.

"We’re not going to let the status quo prevent Virginia students from accessing the educational opportunities they need and deserve,” said Martin.