LURAY, Va. — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above shows discussions other Northern Virginia school districts are having in response to Gov. Glenn Youngkin's executive order making masks optional for schools.
A Virginia woman has been charged for threatening to bring loaded guns to schools Monday to protest the Page County School Board's mask mandate. Her threats came after the board said it would maintain mask mandates, in defiance of Republican Gov. Glenn Younkin's executive order aimed at making masks optional in schools. The order, as written, allows parents to disregard local school mask mandates without reason.
During the board meeting, the woman—identified by police as 42-year-old Amelia King of Luray—made remarks during the citizen comment period that referenced weapons and "were perceived by many to be threatening in nature," according to the Page County School Superintendent.
Near the end of King's remarks, when her time was up, she was heard saying: "And I will bring every single gun - loaded and ready to ... I, I will call every."
King was then cut off by the school board. Nearly an hour after her remarks, the board voted in favor of making masks optional.
"Page County Public Schools does not take these kinds of statements lightly," a letter sent Friday from Superintendent Antonia Fox read.
King has been charged for making an oral threat on school grounds by Luray Police Department. The department posted on Facebook that she was released on a $5,000 unsecure bond.
Police said that they would increase their presence at the school on Monday.
In an initial statement, Luray Police Chief Bow Cook said on the department's Facebook page that King is cooperating with authorities and did not mean for her comments to cause alarm.
"The statement that was made absolutely caused public alarm, the parent that made the statement realized that, and immediately contacted law enforcement to apologize because the statement was not intended the way it was perceived," Cook said.
King approached the podium nearly 40 minutes into Thursday's school board meeting and began her remarks with: "I typically come to these meetings with a written statement. I like to sound educated, and when I go off the cuff I get really passionate. I'm not always able to say what I want to say in the appropriate way."
King then referenced the last time she addressed the school board, noting that she went beyond her time and outlined what she felt was an inappropriate reaction by the board at that time.
"The last time I was here, I did come with a prepared statement and I did go over my three minutes. There were several people here who 'had a fit' and cut the microphone off. And what the general public doesn't know is that (someone) requested backup for arrest because I continued to speak past my time allotment," King said. "Working in the dental field, if somebody has a problem, I don't just cut them off at 15 minutes and say, 'Oh, I'm sorry; we didn't get that problem addressed, but if you make another appointment we'll see you again in a couple of weeks.'"
She then launched into a critique of the school district's COVID-19 policies, including the district's mask mandate, as well as criticizing what she viewed as the lack of parental controls over choice for their children under the Northam administration plus transgender bathroom access.
"There's a lot of science - a lot of good science ... you know the mask protects the person that's wearing it ..." King said before she was interrupted by a board member informing her she had reached the three-minute comment limit.
"That's three minutes."
"All right. No mask mandates," King responded, with hand raised to punctuate her words. "My children will not come to school on Monday with a mask on, all right? That's not happening."
"And I will bring every single gun - loaded and ready to ... I, I will call every ...," King went on.
"OK, that's three minutes. You've gone past your time. It's a policy," a board member said, cutting her off.
"Mmm-hmm. I'll see y'all on Monday," King said, collecting her purse and exiting the room.
Fifty minutes after King's remarks, the school board voted to make masks optional. Board member said their next step was to work on creating an opt-out form for families, as well as address how some immunocompromised students may need to learn remotely.
On Friday, Superintendent Fox said that all Page County schools will see an increased police presence, supported by the Page County Sheriff's Office. Luray police are investigating the incident and are communicating with the Commonwealth's attorney and state and federal officials, Fox said.
"The safety of the students and school staff are our number one priority, we are working diligently with the Page County School Board to ensure proper measures have been put in place for their safety."
Youngkin has issued an executive order since taking office putting the choice of whether students should mask up or not in the hands of parents. At least one lawsuit has been filed over the order and several school districts plan to keep with their mask mandates.
When asked for comment on the Page County incident, a spokesperson stated, "The governor does not condone violence or threats of any kind."