BURKE — Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin called for an investigation into the Loudoun County school board over rape accusations that surfaced last week.
Mr. Youngkin called for the firings or resignations of those thought to be responsible for the incident earlier this year at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn.
“We must fix this now. Those who are responsible must be fired or resign immediately,” Mr. Youngkin said, speaking Tuesday in Burke, Virginia.
Mr. Youngkin was joined on stage by parent activists and the other Republican nominees for the state’s top three offices — lieutenant-governor nominee Winsome Sears and attorney general candidate Jason Miyares.
The title of Mr. Youngkin’s event was dubbed “Our Kids Can’t Wait,” alluding to the Jan. 15 swearing-in day for Virginia governor.
Mr. Youngkin’s comments come after Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Ziegler apologized for failing to provide a “safe” environment for students.
A school board member also resigned after controversy over how the board responded to two accusations of sexual assault in the district’s high schools.
Loudoun County, which has been a national hotbed of parental activism in the last year, has faced intense scrutiny after a Virginia family said their 15-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted in a girls’ restroom on May 28 by a boy who claims to be genderfluid.
The teenage suspect, who later transferred to a nearby school, then was accused of sexual assault by another female student.
Scott and Jess Smith, the parents of the girl in the May case, announced they were suing the school district under the provisions of Title IX.
In June, Mr. Smith confronted the Loudoun County School Board about the attack on his daughter and was forcibly removed from the school board meeting and arrested.
Mr. Youngkin blamed the purported assault on his opponent, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, after it was reported the prosecutor had ties to the candidate as well as Democratic mega-donor George Soros.
“The blame for these wrongs and the present chaos in our schools lay squarely at the feet of 40-year-politician Terry McAuliffe,” Mr. Youngkin said Tuesday. “Squarely at his feet, but also at George Soros-backed allies.”
Mr. Soros has funded numerous liberal causes, including district-attorney candidates whom conservatives accuse of being soft on crime and LGBTQ-friendly policies such as bathroom access and discrimination protections that they blame in the Loudoun assaults.
Mr. Youngkin also touched on his deeper vision for education, pitching his signature promises to ban critical race theory in schools and raise teacher pay.
“We will have the largest education budget in Virginia’s history,” Mr. Youngkin said. “We will raise teacher pay. We will rebuild our crumbling schools and we will invest in scheduled special education programs because Virginia’s kids with disabilities suffered mightily during this pandemic.”
The Republican also pushed Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring, who is running for a third term, to “do your job” and investigate the Loudoun County incidents.
“This is his job and he won’t do it,” Mr. Youngkin said.
Mr. Herring has largely stayed silent on the case.
Mr. Miyares vowed that he would investigate the incident if elected as attorney general.
“This is a failure of leadership on multiple levels and I think that’s why you have a crowd like this showing up here in the middle of the week,” Mr. Miyares told The Washington Times. “We have parents who just had enough, and they’re ready for a change.”
Mr. McAuliffe’s campaign responded to Mr. Youngkin’s announcement by comparing the candidate to former President Donald Trump.
“Glenn Youngkin‘s entire campaign has been based on Donald Trump’s divisive conspiracy theories, and tonight we saw more of the same — angry Trumpian conspiracy theories and constant threats against public school funding,” McAuliffe spokeswoman Christina Freundlich said.
Ms. Freundlich added that her candidate is “running for all Virginians and will build a stronger Commonwealth that invests in public education and lifts everyone up.”
Mr. McAuliffe remains ahead in the polls, though the race remains tight.
A CBS News/YouGov poll conducted Oct. 4-11 had Mr. McAuliffe up by 3 percentage points — 50% over Mr. Youngkin’s 47%.
The poll surveyed 1,040 likely voters and had an error margin of 4.1 percentage points, which is greater than Mr. McAuliffe’s 3-point edge, making the poll a statistical tie.
Early voting is underway in Virginia. Election Day is Nov. 2.