Virginia set up a tip line for ‘divisive’ classroom concepts. Documents show it turned into a hotline for the state’s schools

By Geneva Sands, CNN

A controversial Virginia education tip line set up earlier this year to gather information on so-called “divisive concepts” taught in the classroom, generated a hodgepodge of comments amounting to a generic hotline for the state school system, according to a sample of emails reviewed by CNN.

Announced earlier this year by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, the tip line received emails ranging from concerns about civil rights violations to positive feedback about teachers.

On his first day in office, Youngkin issued an executive order banning critical race theory from being part of the public school curriculum, even though it wasn’t included in Virginia’s standards of learning.

Following the order, Youngkin announced the tip line for parents to report concerns about these topics being taught in the classroom.

Youngkin said at the time that it would give “a great insight” into what was happening in Virginia schools. “And that gives us further, further ability to make sure we are rooting it out,” Youngkin previously told The John Fredericks Show.

He immediately received pushback on the idea, including from Virginia Democratic Del. Marcus Simon, who said it was reminiscent of authoritarian regimes.

“It’s ironic that the party of freedom is really trying to restrict the kind of ideas that can be taught in Virginia’s classrooms,” Simon told CNN’s Eva McKend.

In April, CNN, along with more than a dozen other media outlets, including the Washington Post, Axios Media and Sinclair Broadcast Group, filed a lawsuit for access to the correspondence sent to the tip line.

The lawsuit was filed after the governor’s office refused to provide documents requested by individual media outlets. The media organizations reached a settlement with the governor’s office, which produced a portion of the emails received by the tip line.

It’s unclear how many total responses the tip line received.

The comments sent to the tip line range from what appear to be sincere concerns about critical race theory teachings to numerous advocate emails about alleged violations of federal law.

CNN reached out to Youngkin’s office for comment on the tip line and allegations raised.

In the emails reviewed by CNN, there were also concerns about institutionalized racism, mask wearing in schools, a back-and-forth about math curriculum and one woman who said she wanted to flood the tipline with positive comments.

“I hope you are doing well. I have written a message each day to the governor for 34 consecutive days and you guys were the subject of today’s message,” one person wrote in February 2022. “I know the tip line was designed for people to squeal on teachers or schools but I decided to use it for sharing the good things teachers do.”

Others expressed frustration with school districts and administrators.

One advocate, who appears in many of the documents produced in the lawsuit, wrote in April, claiming there are systematic violations of civil rights in Virginia.

“Special Education in Virginia is in a crisis…..our black children are suffering irreparable harm. …CRT is not the threat,” the advocate wrote as part of a partially redacted email.

Another tipster wrote in to say they “do not support the banning of critical race theory in public schools or the banning of any books!”

One person, who said they were a student at Auburn High School in Riner (Montgomery County) wrote to complain about “Critical Theory” curriculum. “The first book we are reading is “Beowulf.” All my teacher wants to talk about how the book is sexist because it portrays the warriors as men and not women,” the person, whose name was redacted, wrote.

“I believe my teacher is in violation of Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order which prohibits the teaching of ‘divisive topics,’ the person added.

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