Youngkin’s education tip line grips: Beowulf, masks and ‘grooming’
The student’s email was one of 350 to the Youngkin administration this week to settle the lawsuit that The Washington Post published and to Twelve other media outlets filed suit in April after the governor refused to release tip-line submissions under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
In the middle of the course of the case file above Va. Gov. Youngkin’s teacher tip line
The 350 letters — many of them duplicates — are thought to represent a small fraction of the tips, while the entire number remains under wraps. Youngkin’s office referred the question of the sum to Attorney General Jason S. Miyares (R), who represented the state in the suit. Miyares spokeswoman Victoria LaCivita declined to comment.
Youngkin clarified that the tip submissions fall under the FOIA exemption for “the president’s work and correspondence.” Under the terms of the settlement, the administration released only those tips that were also sent or sent to the Virginia Department of Education’s email address.
Filed in Richmond Circuit Court by a media coalition that included the Press, Tribune Publishing and NPR, the suit contended that the exemptions for working papers and correspondence did not apply to end-of-line submissions — in part because, according to the suit, submissions with individuals outside the president’s office, including the American Enterprise Institute , right-leaning tanks think.
“The attorney general agreed with representatives of several media outlets to maintain the settlement principle that constituent communications with the governor are protected under the law and are exempt from FOIA,” Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said in a statement. “The governor wants constituents to be able to reach him without fear that their communications will be kept confidential.”
The American nonprofit ethics watchdog group Oversight, which also requested copies of the tips, is still seeking them in a separate case filed in August in Arlington County Circuit Court.
Shortly after taking office in January, Youngkin told parents to report “divisive” ideas at the school by emailing [email protected]
“We’re asking folks to send us reports and observations,” Youngkin said in a radio interview around the same time. “Help us be aware … of denying their child the rights that parents have in Virginia, and we all want to make it happen. … And what further affords us, make us further capable of cutting it out.
Critics called the initiative an attempt to intimidate teachers and suggested an extreme flood with tongue-in-cheek complaints, such as a scathing sarcastic warning that Virginia schools were teaching “Arabic numerals.”
None of the tips this week were released in that tone, although one woman used the end of the line to get the president’s attention to support physical education teachers around the state. she youd’ then I send a copy to the teachers.
“I know it’s not meant to be the end of the flattery line, but I’ve spent the past 34 days recovering from this.” [from] hip and back surgery Sheila J. Jones, who is on medical leave from the office of coordinator of K-12 health and physical education for Virginia Beach schools, wrote to a Loudoun school official. “Answers” [from teachers] range from ‘you made my day/humility was made and this lifted me up’ to ‘you made me cry happy tears’. “
None of the tips — 35 sent in as many days — generated a response from management, “not even an auto-response,” Jones sent in an email to the Post on Wednesday. But some of his classmates applauded his approach.
“I love that you use the ‘top line,'” Ashley F. Ellis, Loudoun’s deputy superintendent; rewriting the enclosed address to those who had been freed from the state. “We received two members from parents who reported that their teachers had done wonderful things to help their students. I hope those members are not illegal. It’s really hard to be an educator in Virginia right now, so we can do anything to celebrate our important teachers.”
Many tips have been released this week reflecting on the K-12 culture wars that were central to Youngkin’s closing argument in last year’s campaign, when he criticized Democrats for extended school closures and mandated masking amid the coronavirus pandemic and accused school officials of trying to “indoctrinate.” “Students in matters of race.
One parent was getting a reading assignment that was “hot” for immigrants. Another raised alarm about a free online school that is offered by a local school district, citing a “potential way for unsuspecting wrongdoers” to prey on students. Some are concerned that the concept of “gender identity” is embedded in a family’s career.
Mother Spotsylvania called for seven books to be taken out of school libraries, writing: “These are the books, I think, that desensitize children to healthy sexual relationships and rely on nature.”
Many parents were upset that certain schools required face masks earlier this year, at a time when the courts were still deciding whether Youngkin’s executive order to ban face masks was legal. (The General Assembly eventually passed a law giving parents the right to choose their children out of the ghost school mandate).
Youngkin urges calm with his call for a ban masked in mandates but also stokes division
In most cases, the sender’s name is redacted. However, that was not the case for email therapist Kandise Lucas, a disability attorney representing families of special education students in various disputes with local school districts.
Luke — no relation to the state of Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), one of Youngkin’s sharpest critics in the legislature — referring to the governor’s campaign rhetoric among some of his members. In March, for example, when the bottom line sent information about the family that had been denied to school students, concluding with “when Parents Matter?”
In the interview, Lucas said the administration did not respond to any of his “tips” – a disappointment, he said, because at the insistence of Youngkin’s war, he convened in the special education hall at Chesterfield Church with Lady Suzanne Young before the election year. (Youngkin’s office could not immediately confirm the event in Prytaneus).
“It’s been said that children’s money will follow their parents’ business,” said Lucas, a political independent who supported Youngkin. “I thought they were listening.”