RICHMOND (AP) -- Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says he won't defend one of Gov. Bob McDonnell's signature education reform laws in court.

The Virginia School Boards Association and the Norfolk School Board are preparing to challenge the new law allowing the state to take over failing schools. They claim the law usurps local authority granted by the Virginia Constitution.

Cuccinelli says in a letter to the governor that after analyzing the constitutional issues, he's decided his office cannot defend the lawsuit. He did not elaborate.

Spokesman Brian Gottstein says 'Cuccinelli supports efforts to turn failing schools around, but his legal analysis shows that, unfortunately, this law goes about it in a way that is unconstitutional. The Virginia Constitution states and the courts have affirmed that the supervision of public schools must remain with their local school districts.'

He explained this is a purely legal issue. If the attorney general's analysis shows that a law is unconstitutional, he has a legal obligation to not defend it.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin says the administration looks forward to working with outside counsel to defend the law.

Click here to read AG Cuccinelli's letter.

AP-WF-09-03-13 1841GMT

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