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SPRINGFIELD, VA – Stephanie Lundquist-Arora, a mother of three, accused Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) of playing politics after her sons were suspended on dress code violations for not wearing face masks to school.
Lundquist-Arora’s sons were among 24 FCPS students suspended Jan. 25 for failing to wear masks.
“The masks had given them headaches,” Lundquist-Arora told Fox News Digital. “They didn’t like wearing them. So they found them problematic.”
Her two younger boys were suspended for 15 days from Hunt Valley Elementary School, but she said she has “not heard back yet” from the principal about her appeal requests. She appealed her older son’s suspension in an email to Irving Middle School Principal Cynthia Conley, arguing it was inaccurate, misleading, and flew in the face of rights of privacy and political freedom. She was adamant that the school’s action was also in violation of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s, R., Executive Order 2, which requires Virginia schools to allow parents to opt their children out of the mask mandates still in place in some Virginia schools.
Lundquist-Arora argued that based on the state law, he was fully within his right to be maskless and that local dress code mandates do not supersede state law.
Her appeal was denied last week, with the principal writing in the school’s decision that, “due to his refusal to wear a face mask, the dress code violation was recorded and a consequence was given.”
Lundquist-Arora expanded on why she saw the move as political in an interview with Fox News Digital.
“I also think that my sons are being punished for political reasons,” she said. “We had the audacity to actually exercise our rights under the governor’s order. And they’ve never objected so fervently to anything that Gov. Northam has done in the past. There was never an issue where Gov. Northam would pass an executive order and the school board would say, ‘Oh we’re not listening to that, and we’re going to pass a policy to circumvent that.’ So I think that this is definitely political.”
The parent-activist said she had identified a hint of irony in her son’s punishment.
“Ironically, actually, when I came to pick up my son, at one point I think in the counselor’s office or wherever they held him, there’s a sign that says, students who, in order to stay on course for graduation, students should not miss more than nine days in the school year,” she said. “And I thought that was particularly ironic given that they just willfully suspended him for nine days over a piece of cloth over his face, or not having one.”
Lundquist-Arora worried her son’s suspensions would be an “impediment to furthering his academic pursuits.” Her older son’s 9-day suspension, she noted, makes it appear as though he is an offender on par with drug dealers or worse. In reality, she said, “he is a conscientious, straight-A student who has never been in trouble other than for these politically-charged ‘dress code’ violations.”
As for next steps, Lundquist-Arora said she’s going to “pursue legal avenues to fight” and is going to appeal to the state board of education.
“I’m hoping that at the end of the day, justice will prevail and these will be erased,” she said. “That’s all I can do is hope and fight it. This is completely ridiculous.”
Irving Middle School and Fairfax County Public Schools did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The mom has fought against other measures in recent months, including a new rule which would suspend or expel students for “maliciously misgendering” their peers. The Fairfax County school board voted 8-4 to pass the policy in June.
“I think it’s inappropriate, completely, for the school to be involved in something so far outside of general education for children,” Lundquist-Arora told Fox News Digital.
“It’s clearly an activist board we have. It’s basically a totalitarian regime. They like to ban everything they’re against, and mandate everything they’re for,” she said.
But she credited the parental uprising with having made at least a small impact. Had they not spoken out, the mother believes the vote “would have been unanimous.”
Again, Lundquist-Arora said she and her fellow parents had plans to fight.
“Our next steps are to encourage parents and students who disagree with the document to not sign it at the beginning of the academic year,” she said. “We further will call for a repeal of all language in the document that compels speech and violates the First Amendment.”