Ignoring violence in schools will hurt our children

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Loudoun County is in the midst of an apparent cover-up, and two young women have been assaulted. The tragedy in Loudoun County has brought to light one of the most horrifying pieces of legislation passed by the majority.

Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly voted for, and Governor Ralph Northam signed, a law allowing schools to refrain from reporting instances of sexual battery, stalking, violation of a protective order and violent threats occurring on school property in 2020.

§ 22.1-279.3:1 of Virginia code had required that these, among a number of other major crimes, be reported to law enforcement if they occurred on campus. Democrats insisted that misdemeanors be extirpated from reporting requirements in House Bill 257, replacing the word “criminal” with “felony” in the code.

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In a stunning exchange between legislators in the last year, Todd Gilbert asked Delegate Mike Mullen, “Did I hear correctly that you would not have to report sexual battery to law enforcement any longer if we accept these amendments?”

“I would answer the minority leader that he is not hard of hearing and that he is asking me to repeat this over again even though he heard it the first time,” responded Mullen, the bill’s sponsor.

“Forgive me, Madam Speaker, ladies and gentlemen, for being shocked that the patron, a career prosecutor, would want to accept these amendments and frankly would want to put you all in the position of voting to accept these amendments,” shot back Gilbert.

Until Democrats passed House Bill 257, principals were required to report crimes such as sexual battery to the police. After it became law, reporting sexual battery, along with others like stalking, threats against teachers and threats against schools, became optional.

Republicans warned that this legislation would make our children less safe and voted against it. We urged Governor Northam to veto the bill. Our concerns fell on deaf ears, as not only did Democrats pass it, but Northam signed it.

Worse, in this case, it appears that the school system didn’t remove this student from classes but rather chose to send the perpetrator to another high school.

When administrators ignore violence in schools, children get hurt. From the school board to the Governor’s mansion, Democrats don’t seem to want to listen to parents.

The Virginia redistricting commission has another public hearing on Oct. 20th at 8 a.m. You can watch this meeting at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm3rp8xB4H2zWbasznvZ5Fw/videos.

You can register to speak at this meeting at https:// docs.google.com/forms/d/e/ 1FAIpQLSfYgdBOcvo540D9sSUPXLgmQvheRXuhX5PMK75qjEQB-xajAQ/viewform. You must register before noon on Oct. 19 to speak.

Last week I participated in two candidate forums hosted by the Senior Statesmen of Virginia and the Nelson County Chamber of Commerce. If you would like to watch the SSV Forum, you can here: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=mYM3I6OmLvg.

I invite you to join Senator Mark Peake and myself for Legislative Meet and Greet, this Wednesday, Oct. 20 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Courtland Field Park. Hamburgers and hotdogs will be provided while you come share your view and concerns with your legislators in the General Assembly.

I have compiled a list of important dates pertaining to the November Elections. Early voting began Sept. 17 and ends Oct. 30. Oct. 22 is the deadline to request an absentee ballot be mailed to you. It must be received in the registrar’s office by 5 p.m.

There are five Early Voting Locations in the 59th District located at your counties registrar’s office.

Buckingham County Registrar’s Office is located at 13360 W James Anderson Hwy, Buckingham, VA 23921. Operating hours are 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and their phone number is (434) 969-4304.

You can also visit https:// vote.elections.virginia.gov/ VoterInformation to register, check your registration status, find your polling location and apply to vote absentee.

DEL. C. MATTHEW FARISS represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov.