VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin held his fifth “Parents Matter” conversation with Virginia Beach parents, the fifth-such session he’s held across Virginia.
It was an opportunity for the governor to push his vision, note achievements and to listen to parents.
With about 150 people on hand, Youngkin covered a wide-range of topics:
- Parents having a fundamental right to be involved in the schools their children attend.
- Concern about school safety
- Drugs like fentanyl killing five Virginians every day according to the governor
- Remaining achievement gaps
- 75% of minors fully engaged in social media and 25% of minors are on social media 24 hours a day
“And that means they are literally sleeping with their phones…waking up throughout the night, and that is not OK,” Youngkin told the crowd, which included several who are running for political office in November, and it was definitely a Republican-leaning audience.
Here were some of the issues.
Youngkin said the school systems must adopt the state’s model policy Model Policy about how transgender students are recognized in schools, or pass a policy that mirrors the current model policy.
“This is part of the state code,” Youngkin said. The attorney general said school systems don’t have a choice whether to adopt the model policy or not. It is in the code. They have no choice.”
Apparently, some school boards don’t feel that way. Most recently, Virginia Beach rejected the governor’s model policy last week.
We pressed the governor what if School Boards say no, and reject the current policy,
“School Boards don’t get to choose which part of the Code they will follow and which policies they won’t,” Youngkin said. “Until they adopt these policies, they have real legal exposure as individuals and as a Board.”
However, the issue that touched most people was from Paulette Diaz-Reed, whose son was bullied so badly at a Virginia Beach high school that he refused to go to his own graduation.
Diaz-Reed got emotional, was powerful in her delivery, and you could feel the painful experience suffered by her and her family,
“He did not attend his graduation,” Diaz-Reed said. “My husband said, ‘Give it to him. You don’t have to go, son. You don’t have to be with people who didn’t find you worthwhile for four years.'”
10 On Your Side asked the governor, who is the father of four, about her plight.
We asked him how he interpreted her emotional plea to make the schools safe from the bullies who obviously have no regard for others
“It’s heartbreaking that a child and a family would go through that,” Youngkins said, “and on the top of that the school knew, and that to me, is really concerning.”
The governor was taking it all in — it was a thoughtful discussion with lots of topics. H e was taking notes and he covered a lot of ground.
Another parent spoke about the cost of sending children to school even if they are public schools. She spoke about the need to have in-school tutors during regular school hours because many parents can’t afford tutors and, as a result, the children of lower-income families fall further behind.
Youngkin jumped on that answer.
“Today every parent can now get access to their child’s academic profile,” Youngkin said, “and can understand how their child is doing.”