Virginia Attorney General Sues Over School Mask Mandates

January 21, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
Virginia Attorney General Sues Over School Mask Mandates
Jason Miyares gives a thumbs up after a speech on Nov. 2, 2021, in Virginia Beach. (Mike Caudill/Virginian-Pilot/AP)

WASHINGTON — Virginia’s new attorney general continued a hard turn to the right Thursday when he filed documents in the state Supreme Court asking for a dismissal of a lawsuit against Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s order overturning mask mandates.

Youngkin’s executive order last week makes masking in public schools optional, which prompted a group of parents to sue. They accuse the new Republican governor of violating a state law approved under the previous state Democratic administration.

The law requires the state to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

The motion for dismissal filed by Attorney General Jason Miyares says the governor is trying to uphold a fundamental right of children to public education. It also says the CDC does not specifically support mask mandates, only “currently applicable mitigation strategies.”

The policy change continues a hardline conservative shift that began hours after Youngkin and Miyares were sworn into office. 

On his first day in office, Miyares announced two investigations of government entities and fired 30 staff members in the state’s civil rights office.

The announcements follow up on pledges from Youngkin for a crackdown on crime. He blamed an increase in crime during the previous administration on lax law enforcement.

“There’s a new sheriff in town,” Miyares said in an interview last week with Fox News.

Miyares said in a press release hours after he was sworn into office that he would investigate Virginia’s parole board and the Loudoun County Public Schools.

“One of the reasons Virginians get so fed up with government is the lack of transparency — and that’s a big issue here,” Miyares wrote. “The Virginia Parole Board broke the law when they let out murderers, rapists and cop killers early in their sentences without notifying the victims. Loudoun County Public Schools covered up a sexual assault on school grounds for political gain, leading to an additional assault of a young girl.”

Youngkin fired the entire five-member parole board hours after taking office.

The Loudoun County schools became an issue during the gubernatorial campaign after a 14-year-old boy was accused of raping a high school girl in a bathroom. He was transferred to a different school where he allegedly raped a second girl.

The school board was accused of a cover-up to protect their public image.

Miyares defended the firings in the attorney general’s office as a change of direction for the new governor’s administration.

“During the campaign, it was made clear that now Attorney General-elect Miyares and Attorney General Herring have very different visions for the office,” a spokeswoman told Richmond.com. “We are restructuring the office, as every incoming AG has done in the past.”

Tom can be reached at [email protected]

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