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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Chesapeake parents will continue against Youngkin mask order

The representing attorney noted that further legal action could be initiated in the Hampton Roads area.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — As a parent and network engineer, Matt Castillo isn’t exactly a courtroom expert. So in the past couple of weeks, he’s learned plenty of lessons while challenging the state’s highest authority.

“The case in of itself is not a standard case, kind of politically charged, I hate that that’s the case,” Castillo said, a parent with several children in the Chesapeake Public Schools Division.

Castillo is one of 13 parents in the city who filed a lawsuit in January against Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Executive Order 2, which allows students to opt-out of wearing masks at school.

This Monday, the Virginia Supreme Court dismissed the case, but Castillo said the legal battle is not over for the parents.

“Certainly not the end, just a procedural speed bump we need to move past,” Castillo said.

According to an opinion from the court, this case was dismissed for more technical and procedural complications. In short, the courts tossed the case because the parents sought the wrong type of remedies.

Castillo said because the court did not rule one way or the other regarding the legality of the executive order, they plan to pursue a new legal avenue for the case.

“It wasn’t that our case wasn’t strong, but that particular legal vehicle wasn’t the option for us,” Castillo said.

The heart of their argument focuses on SB1303, a previously passed bill in the Virginia General Assembly that requires school divisions to follow CDC guidance to the highest extent possible.

The case argues Youngkin is not able to supersede already passed state law. This was the focus of a separate lawsuit filed by several Virginia schools, resulting in a judge temporarily blocking the order after a hearing last week. 

“However we go about our next steps, the supreme court will most likely not be where we go,” Castillo said.

Attorney Kevin Martingayle, representing the parents in this case, issued the following statement to 13News Now:

The supreme court’s dismissal was based purely on procedural grounds, and did not in any way rule on the legality of Executive Order Number 2. However, the supreme court’s order did make it clear that the discretion to supervise schools is with school boards, and there has been no suggestion by the supreme court that the governor has the authority to dictate to school boards how school boards exercise supervision.

There are other legal actions pending around Virginia. It is currently contemplated that my clients and new plaintiffs are going to initiate another action in a trial court somewhere in the Hampton Roads area.

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