FCPS, six other districts, file lawsuit against Youngkin executive order

FCPS announced a joint lawsuit against Governor Glenn Youngkin’s executive order banning school mask requirements Monday morning.

Fairfax County joins six other districts, including neighboring Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church and Prince William, in challenging the order.

“At issue is whether locally-elected school boards have the exclusive authority and responsibility conferred upon them by Article VIII, § 7 of the Constitution of Virginia over supervision of the public schools in their respective communities, or whether an executive order can unilaterally override that constitutional authority,” a statement from the seven school districts said. “Also at issue is whether a governor can, through executive order, without legislative action by the Virginia General Assembly, reverse a lawfully-adopted statute.”

Youngkin’s executive order, signed on his first day of office, allows parents to opt their children out of mask mandates instead of being subject to regulations from the district.

Today’s action is not politically motivated,” the joint statement said. “These seven school divisions would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the governor to ensure the safety and welfare of all students.”

While FCPS has maintained its mask mandate in spite of the executive order, some districts like the neighboring city Falls Church, which is part of the legal challenge, have already begun the opt-out process for masking, which will begin within the next several weeks.

“We also believe there will be a time, hopefully soon, when we will be able to safely roll back many of the protection measures we have had in place since the start of the pandemic,” FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in a county announcement regarding the legal action. “To do so prematurely puts students at risk of both illness and missing critical time in the classroom.”

FCPS will hold a virtual town hall regarding mask requirements Monday evening from 7-8 p.m.