Delegate Habeeb's HJ693 is a constitutional amendment that gives the General Assembly the authority to establish a statewide school division to take over failing schools. This constitutional amendment is a Governor's bill and is an apparent recognition that the Governor's school takeover bills (HB2096 and SB1324) are unconstitutional.
HJ693 was amended by the Senate Courts of Justice Committee today. The original bill allowed the General Assembly to establish a statewide school division for the takeover of schools that have been denied accreditation for a number of consecutive school years.
Delegate Habeeb appeared to realize today that his takeover bill, HB2096, was broader that his constitutional amendment (because the bill requires takeover when a school is denied accreditation for the first year and permits a takeover when a school has been accredited with warning for three years). He offered an amendment to HJ693 that would allow the takeover of any school that is denied accreditation or accredited with warning, without any requirement that the school be accredited with warning for multiple years. Under this amendment, the number of schools that could be taken over by the state increases dramatically.
We strenuously opposed HJ693 and the amendment to it. The Committee adopted the amendment on a 8-7 party line vote and the reported the bill on the same vote.