Governor McDonnell Highlights Successful Charter School Legislation

-Ceremonially Signs Bill Putting Virginia in the Vanguard of the National Charter School Movement: Legislation Part of Governor’s “Opportunity to Learn” Education Reform Package-

New Virginia Laws Take Effect July 1st

RICHMOND – Nine days before Virginia’s new laws take effect, Governor Bob McDonnell today ceremonially signed legislation that will facilitate the expansion of high-quality charter schools in the Commonwealth. The legislation, HB1390, sponsored by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-Woodbridge), and SB737, sponsored by Senator Steve Newman (R-Lynchburg), was part of the Governor’s 2010 “Opportunity to Learn” education reform legislative agenda. Governor McDonnell was joined at today’s event by Delegate Lingamfelter and Delegate Rosalyn Dance (D-Petersburg), who was a chief-co-patron of the House measure. Virginia Secretary of Education Gerard Robinson, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Pat Wright, members of the General Assembly and other education leaders also attended today’s ceremony. The bill signing took place at Patrick Henry School of Sciences and Arts, a charter school scheduled to open in Richmond this fall.

The Governor’s charter school legislation signed today significantly improves the application and review process for public charter school applicants. It requires the public charter school applicant to submit its proposed charter application to the Board of Education for review, comment and a recommendation for approval or disapproval prior to the submission of the application to the local school board. This will help expedite meritorious applications and provide uniform statewide input to get good applications approved. The bill also allows for a public charter school applicant whose application was denied, or a grantee whose charter was revoked or failed to renew, to receive written reasons for such denial and thereafter petition the local school board for reconsideration. The process for reconsideration will include an opportunity for public comment and technical assistance from the state Department of Education. The final decision still rests with the local school board.

Speaking at today’s bill signing, Governor McDonnell remarked, “A child’s educational opportunities should be determined by her intellect and work ethic, not her zip code. That is what our successful ‘Opportunity to Learn’ education reform agenda was all about, expanding opportunities for students to learn in the environments that suit them best. One way we can bring more opportunities to our young people, especially at-risk students, is through the expansion of high quality charter schools, and that is why I am so pleased to sign this legislation today.”

Governor McDonnell continued, “Charter schools are public schools with the freedom to innovate in educating and preparing our students for the workforce. Nationally, charter schools are becoming a common and welcome part of the educational landscape. Unfortunately, that has not been the case in Virginia. Out of the 4600 charter schools educating children nationwide, only three can be found in the Commonwealth. Patrick Henry School, where we are today, will be our fourth. The legislation signed today will strengthen Virginia’s charter school law by providing more assistance and guidance to charter applicants. The opportunity for review and assistance will broaden the understanding for what is needed to open a high-quality, successful charter school in Virginia, and I am optimistic that this legislation is a positive step towards seeing more high quality charter schools open their doors in communities all across Virginia. Charter schools are a positive and rewarding alternative for parents and children seeking more options in education, and they will play an important role in the future of public education in our Commonwealth.”

Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, chief patron of HB1390, also noted, “I am pleased by the success of the education reform initiatives passed during this year’s General Assembly session. Each measure, from charter schools to virtual schools and college lab partnerships, passed with broad bipartisan support. Expanding charter schools in Virginia will provide access to greater innovation in education for our students. It’s critical that we work to provide more opportunities for Virginia’s school-age children to receive the high-quality education needed to succeed in today’s global society.”

Delegate Rosalyn Dance, chief co-patron of HB1390, commented, “All children in Virginia deserve a first class education. While the number of unaccredited schools in Virginia has decreased, we should never tolerate the status quo when it comes to demanding excellence for all of Virginia’s children, regardless of where they live. I am pleased that we have aligned ourselves with President Obama’s nationwide movement to increase charter schools and implement true education reform. The legislation signed today will result in more quality charter schools in Virginia and provide challenging, innovative and quality learning environments for our young people.”

For more information on HB1390, please visit:

For more information on SB737, please visit: