Educators seek tip line removal

Published 8:00 am Thursday, March 17, 2022

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Since taking office, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has come under fire by many educators and teacher organizations following his development of a school tip line to allow parents to call and report any wrongdoings at their child’s school.

Late last week, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) sent out a letter to Superintendent of the Virginia Dept. of Education Jillian Balow, asking that the tip line be removed.

School division superintendents, along with their communities, know best their curriculum, personnel, and student services, and they believe that gross assumptions have been made, without evidentiary support, said VASS Executive Director Howard Kiser. “Parents and educators must collaborate in a positive manner to achieve better outcomes for children. The as dministration can be a catalyst for positive stakeholder relationships through messages and actions. A tip line for parents to report divisive content to the Governor impedes positive relationships; therefore, the tip line needs to be terminated.”

The request came in a letter written and adopted by the VASS 12 member board that represents the commonwealth’s 133 school superintendents.

The association argues that it was left out of any input of Gov. Youngkin’s 30-day education report.

On Monday, March 14, Gov. Youngkin said the letter was a gross misrepresentation of what superintendents believe. “It’s my understanding that, in fact, there was not a vote; this was a board of an association that wrote a letter and mischaracterized the support they had for that letter. I think that’s wrong.” Youngkin said.

At the local level, Charlotte County Public Schools Superintendent Robbie Mason said that the VASS’s letter was sent to him and other superintendents without any input from the 133 superintendents.

On Monday, March 14, Mason said that he disagrees with the Governor’s tip line decision and believes issues need to be handled at the local school divisions versus the Governor’s Office.

“School divisions were not informed about what information the tip line was designed to receive, how the information gathered would be investigated, nor was there a discussion about how we would be notified if concerns about schools were received at the state level,” Mason said.

According to Mason, to date, the division is unaware of any calls made to the tip line from Charlotte County parents.

“State tip lines do not allow for resolution to issues at the local level, and we may not even be notified that a problem exists,” Mason said. “I would hate for there to be a serious issue that is called into the state tip line that we are not made aware of, which gets worse because we were never notified about it. As always, I encourage our parents to speak with the child’s principal about any issues that they may have, and I am happy to speak with anyone who feels that those issues are continuing.”