Glenn Youngkin's Tip Line Uses Teachers 'As Pawns,' School Board Member Says

A school board member has rebuked Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's tip line for reporting teachers, saying they are being used as pawns.

Youngkin last week promoted the email address as a tool for parents to report "inherently divisive practices" and other objectionable behavior in schools, prompting a backlash and calls for it to be overwhelmed with fake tips.

Karl Frisch, a member of the Fairfax County School Board, addressed the tip line during a meeting on Thursday.

"On Monday, we heard some chatter from Richmond that an email address has been set up to report supposedly divisive teachers to the government for some sort of list that's being kept," Frisch said, according to a video he posted on Twitter that has since gone viral.

"As if the past two years haven't been hard enough on school staff, in the middle of a hiring crisis, no less, now they're being used as pawns."

Frisch urged people to email him with "praise for your talented, thoughtful and caring educators" before noting that he receives "plenty of emails about our amazing staff."

He added: "Don't email me, email them. Email your teachers, email your principals, email your counselors and your custodians, and your food service workers and bus drivers and subs and all the other incredible people who are keeping our schools open.

"Tell them thank you. Tell them how much they are appreciated. Tell them you have their backs because I promise you this: they do not hear it often enough. And they are not paid anywhere near enough for the divisive garbage that's being thrown at them by people who know better, but do it anyways. I appreciate you and I know everybody in this room appreciates you too."

Frisch added to Newsweek: "Teachers should not have to worry about the government keeping a secret list of educators who don't live up to Governor Youngkin's divisive political standards. Rather than looking over teachers' shoulders, the governor should be looking for ways to support their critical work."

Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter told Newsweek: "The governor's office set up as a resource for parents, teachers, and students to relay any questions or concerns. Governor Youngkin was elected to serve all Virginians and has utilized a customary constituent service, to hear from Virginians and solicit feedback."

Youngkin's tip line was also slammed by the Virginia Education Association (VEA), a union representing more than 40,000 teachers and school support professionals.

The governor "has managed to sow chaos and division throughout the Commonwealth with his unconstitutional executive orders and poorly conceived 'hotline' designed to intimidate educators simply trying to do their jobs," VEA President James J. Fedderman told Newsweek.

Youngkin signed an executive order on his first day in office that banned "divisive concepts" including critical race theory in public schools. Critical race theory, or CRT, is an academic framework that centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation's institutions and isn't taught in K-12 schools.

Update 1/31/22, 10 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional comment from Karl Frisch.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin gives the inaugural address after being sworn in as the 74th Governor of Virginia on the steps of the State Capitol on January 15, 2022, in Richmond, Virginia. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images