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Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 1240, which would create a new executive branch agency known as the Virginia Virtual School. This entity, governed by an independent policy board, would facilitate the provision of full-time, online education programs for students throughout Virginia.

This bill is virtually identical to HB 8 (2016). The Office of the Attorney General advised that HB 8 was unconstitutional; consequently, I vetoed it.

In establishing the Virginia Virtual School outside of the jurisdiction of the Board of Education, and most importantly, local school boards, this legislation raises significant constitutional concerns.

Students throughout Virginia need and deserve access to a wide variety of high quality virtual learning opportunities, including both blended and full-time options. Following my 2016 veto of HB 8, the Secretary of Education and Virginia Department of Education convened a workgroup composed of a broad range of stakeholders to explore alternative policy proposals to expand access for students. The workgroup’s recommendations formed the basis of new legislation, proposed this year at my request, which would have expanded access for students in every corner of the Commonwealth. This would be accomplished within a constitutionally-sound governance model that provided flexibility for local school divisions and maximized necessary supports for enrolled students.

It is unfortunate that despite this alternative proposal, the legislature instead chose to send me unconstitutional legislation nearly identical to that which I vetoed last year.

SB 1240 would create a new state agency outside the constitutional framework governing school divisions and boards.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.