Advocating for parents’ rights in school, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin recently amended a bill to require an early election for Loudoun County’s school board.
Initially, the bill forced all nine members to have elections in November 2023, with four members serving four-year terms and the other five members serving two-year terms. But Youngkin believes the board needs more accountability to parents, especially since the board was accused of covering up a sexual assault of a student this past year.
With Youngkin’s new amendments, the entire board will be forced to have elections this year in November.
“Having accountability and transparency with regards to who represents the parents on the school board is really important,” Youngkin stated. “I amended the bill and this is a great chance to allow parents to express their will in selecting their school board this year.”
Delegate David Reid, who introduced the first part of the bill, criticized Youngkin’s recommendation.
“This is another attempt by some Republicans to subvert our democracy and hold it hostage to a right-wing minority,” Reid said. “By adding this unnecessary amendment to a simple administrative bill, which was requested by the Loudoun Board of Elections, Governor Youngkin is opening the door for any future majority and Governor to undermine local elections and local control.”
The Loudoun County school board released a statement in an email to reporters condemning Youngkin’s decision.
“Governor Youngkin’s proposed amendment seeks to undo a fair and free election in which members of the Loudoun County School Board were chosen by the people of Loudoun County to represent them on the School Board for four years,” it said.
“The proposed Governor’s amendment sets a precedent through which any Governor, with the approval of the General Assembly, could shorten the legally defined terms of any elected local public body chosen by its citizens with whom they disagreed or simply disliked,” the statement continued.
Youngkin’s recommendation will be considered by the General Assembly during its one-day session on April 27.
Loudoun County Public Schools have been mired in controversy for months. School board meetings in the area have made national headlines as parents are concerned about a politically charged curriculum and a series of sexual assaults.
One of the first things Youngkin’s administration did was launch an investigation into two sexual assault cases in Loudoun County schools.
A student has been charged with sexual assault at two different schools. He first assaulted a girl at Stone Bridge High School and was later transferred to Broad Run High School where he assaulted another girl.
When one of the victim’s fathers came to a school board meeting to demand answers, he was arrested. Superintendent Scott Ziegler denied that the incident occurred, or that the “predator” existed.
Emails surfaced, later on, showing that the board was notified immediately after the incident occurred. Ziegler later apologized for his comments, but many have called on Ziegler and the board to step down. Since then, only one member has resigned.
Youngkin and his administration have expressed concern over how the board handled the incident.
“One of the reasons Virginians get so fed up with government is a lack of transparency — and that’s a big issue here,” Attorney General Jason Miyares shared in a statement back in January. “Loudoun County Public Schools covered up a sexual assault on school grounds for political gain, leading to an additional assault of a young girl.”
Miyares has not confirmed if his office completed the investigation.
What do you think of Youngkin’s amendment to the bill? Should the school board face an earlier election?