The Youngkin administration is denying FOIA requests on the governor’s education orders
Multiple media organizations, including the Mercury, have seen their records requests denied or delayed
Gov. Glenn Youngkin campaigned on a platform of involving parents in public education, signing an executive order to root out “divisive concepts” in school curriculum that he’s described as troubling to families across Virginia.
But over the last week, both the governor’s office and Virginia Department of Education have been denying or delaying public records requests related to Youngkin’s executive actions involving education. On Thursday, the Virginian-Pilot reported that the governor’s office was refusing to release emails sent to an inbox Youngkin has described as a tip line for reporting troubling behavior from school officials, including “divisive” subjects in the classroom.
The administration refused requests from several media organizations under Virginia’s working papers exemption, an expansive code section that excludes “working papers and correspondence” from the governor, cabinet officials, state representatives and multiple other elected and appointed officials from the state’s Freedom of Information Act. The measure has been a longtime thorn in the side for open-records advocates.
“Every governor has overused the working papers exemption,” said Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government and an occasional Mercury contributor. Former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam cited the code section to shield his daily calendar in the midst of a key permit vote on Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline. His predecessor, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, claimed the code section shielded the list of felons included in his sweeping rights restoration order — some of whom regained political rights despite not completing their sentences
The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.
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