Virginia school district is adding security after parent was charged with making threat over mandate
By Vimal Patel
A Virginia woman was charged with a misdemeanor late last week after she issued a threat at a school board meeting if the district continued to enforce a mask mandate where her children attend class.
Mask mandates were the topic of the evening at the Page County Public Schools board meeting in Luray, Virginia, Thursday night when Amelia Ruffner King stepped to the podium to speak during time allotted for public comment.
“My children will not come to school on Monday with a mask on, all right?” King, 42, said. “That’s not happening. And I will bring every single gun loaded and ready to, I will call every …”
She was cut off before she could finish.
“I’ll see you all on Monday,” King said as she left.
The remarks caused school officials to plan for an increased police presence throughout the district today.
Virginia has been the site of acrimonious debates over pandemic mandates at public schools. An executive order issued by the new Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, and set to go into effect today allows parents to opt out from having their children wear masks at school.
Some school leaders in the state, including Superintendent Jason Kamras of Richmond Public Schools, have vowed to keep mask mandates in place, and a group of parents have filed a legal challenge to the governor’s executive order, setting up a showdown at the Virginia Supreme Court.
The school board in Page County voted 4-2 Thursday night to effectively support the governor’s order and allow parents to opt out of the mask mandate.
Phone messages left at numbers listed for King were not immediately returned.
The Luray police chief did not immediately return a message, but the department said Friday that it had charged King with communicating an oral threat while on school property, a misdemeanor, and that she had been released on a $5,000 bond.
Earlier Friday, police said King had contacted the authorities to apologize because “the statement was not intended the way it was perceived.”
In a statement Friday, school officials said the comments contradicted the kind of behavior the district tries to model for students and how community members should interact with each other.
“Violence and threats are never acceptable or appropriate,” Superintendent Antonia M. Fox and Megan Gordon, the board chair, said. “This kind of behavior is not tolerated from our students, faculty, staff, nor will it be tolerated by parents or guests of our school division.”