US Youngkin faces new lawsuit as Virginia mask order kicks in
Youngkin signs executive orders banning critical race theory, lifting mask mandate in Virginia public schools
Virginia's Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed 11 executive orders on his first day in office, including one lifting a mask mandate in public schools and another banning the teaching of critical race theory, both issues Youngkin campaigned on."Executive Order Number One delivers on his Day One promise to restore excellence in education by ending the use of divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, in public education," a press"Executive Order Number One delivers on his Day One promise to restore excellence in education by ending the use of divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, in public education," a press release from Youngkin's office read.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin was facing a new legal challenge over his executive action that aimed to let parents opt out of school mask mandates as his order took effect Monday.
Youngkin issued the order as one of his first acts afteras governor Jan. 15, and over the implications since then. Some districts have interpreted the order as being at odds with that deals with COVID-19 mitigation in schools and have to keep pre-existing mask mandates in place for students.
Psaki claps back at Youngkin over school mask mandates
White House press secretary Jen Psaki weighed into Virginia's debate over school mask mandates on Sunday, after newly sworn-in Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) criticized a school district that pledged to flout his bid to make masking optional.Youngkin's executive order allows parents to opt their children out of any mask mandates at schools. Responding to Arlington Public Schools saying masks would still be required in schools and on buses, Youngkin accused the district of failing to listen to "parents.
It was not immediately clear Monday morning to what extent conflict might unfold at schools across the state over the conflicting guidance. Some social media posts urged parents to follow the governor's order, regardless of their school district's position.
With the order facing a legal challenge filed last week filed by a group of parents and another filed Monday morning by seven school boards, Youngkin urged patience and asked parents to listen to their children's school principals for the time being.
“Listen to a principal today. And I know that there are some school systems that are doing things that are inconsistent with respecting the rights of parents. ... Let’s respect it right now and let this legal process play out," he said in an interview with Richmond radio station WRVA Monday morning.
Hundreds of Virginia Schools Rebel Against Glenn Youngkin, Refuse To Lift Mask Mandate
Arlington Public Schools said it would make decisions that "prioritize the health, safety and wellbeing" of students.Youngkin, a Republican, issued an order on Saturday that effectively allows parents to exempt their children from mask requirements imposed by schools, one of his first acts as governor.
He seemed to acknowledge the possibility of conflict, saying: “This is not a moment for us to forget that we’re all in the same boat and love one another.”
Monday's legal challenge was brought by seven schools boards in the state filed a lawsuit in Arlington County Circuit Court seeking to block the executive order.
In a message to parents, Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand he hoped the lawsuit will allow for a swift resolution of the conflict between the governor and local boards that believe a mask mandate is a necessary public health measure.
“It is imperative that decisions about education and school safety are made locally in order to champion the best interests of our students and community,” Brabrand said.
In addition to Fairfax, the state’s most populous jurisdiction, the school boards in Alexandria, Richmond, Hampton, Falls Church, Arlington County and Prince William County, joined the suit. Collectively, the jurisdictions represent more than 350,000 students.
Virginia parents file lawsuit against Gov. Youngkin over executive order ending mask mandates in public schools
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The lawsuit argues the state constitution gives local school boards the authority to run their districts. It also cites a state law that requires school systems to follow federal health guidelines, which include recommendations for universal masking.
“At issue is whether locally-elected school boards will maintain the exclusive authority and responsibility conferred upon them by Article VIII, Section 7 of the Constitution of Virginia to supervise the public schools in their respective school divisions or whether the Governor can unilaterally infringe upon that authority through an executive order,” the lawsuit states.
Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said the administration was disappointed that the school boards were acting counter to parents' rights.
“The governor and attorney general are in coordination and are committed to aggressively defending parents’ fundamental right to make decisions with regard to their child’s upbringing, education and care, as the legal process plays out,” she said in a statement.
Supporters of the executive order say the state law is not in conflict with Youngkin’s executive order because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only recommends mask-wearing and does not mandate it.
Monday’s lawsuit comes after a group of parents in Chesapeake field a petition last week at the Virginia Supreme Court challenging the executive order.
The Supreme Court justices took no action on the lawsuit last week and it was not immediately clear if they would do so Monday.
Democrats commended the school boards who challenged Youngkin on Monday and accused him of using children as political pawns.
“Youngkin is quickly on his way to becoming the most divisive and authoritarian governor in our commonwealth’s long history,” state Sen. Mamie Locke said at a news conference.
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Georgia Bill Would Give Schools 7 Days to Remove Material Parents Think Harmful to Minors .
Sen. Jason Anavitarte thought the bill would "create a process that the public would understand in terms of where to go if there was a concern with material."Senate Bill 225, would add a code to the Quality Basic Education Act that would implement a complaint resolution policy for local education boards to adopt if materials are deemed harmful to minors.