Incoming Members Vow to Involve Parents, Restore Trust
Jillian Schneider | November 8, 2023
(The Lion) — Loudoun County voters elected a completely new slate of school board members Tuesday in what many say is a resounding victory for parents.
The new board members all ran on a platform of transparency, academic excellence, and parental and community involvement.
“We’ve had four years of chaos,” new member Deana Griffiths told local media. “The bathroom issues. The fentanyl crisis. We need to get back to basics. We need to get back math, English, science, history, academic excellence.”
Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) became the center of nationwide controversy when a male student claiming to be transgender raped a female student in the girl’s bathroom.
The school board was lambasted for hiding more information about sexual assaults, and the superintendent was eventually fired for lying about them.
Just a week ago, LCPS was accused of hiding information about multiple students overdosing on fentanyl from parents, who only heard about the issue through the Sherriff’s office.
“In Loudoun County, the issue of transparency has become huge,” Derrick Max, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, told The Lion.
While the Loudoun school board is traditionally Democrat-heavy, Max believes reform is still possible.
“We did win some Republican seats on the school board, so there’ll be at least two good voices to ensure transparency,” he said. “The Democrats who won – they know that it’s important and I think they’ll be more transparent than the last board.”
Ian Prior, executive director of Fight for Schools, the grassroots movement against LCPS’ corrupt leadership, agreed the new board has promise.
“We are confident that there will be five votes that will choose common sense over special interests and dangerous agendas,” Prior told The Lion.
Another abnormality of the school board election is that only two incumbents even attempted to be re-elected.
“The sitting board had gotten so toxic that a lot of them knew better than to run,” Max told The Lion.
Prior agreed the previous board was “disastrous.” Neither were surprised that both incumbents lost their races.
Now, LCPS has a completely new school board, an oddity in the public school establishment.
Max emphasized that the newly-elected board shouldn’t put too much trust in the superintendent.
“A lot of times school boards become captured by the superintendent. They just give credence to whatever the superintendent says,” he explained. “But some of these issues are so big you can’t just leave it up to the superintendent. He’s trying to, in some sense, cover his behind when things go south, and that should not be the role of the school board.”
However, one of the freshly-elected members is already stirring up controversy.
Prior to the election, Donohue was criticized by her opponent for supporting transgender students being allowed to use the bathrooms of their choice and for calling the positions of parental rights advocates “extreme.”
She also seems to disagree with the many parents and community members frustrated with LCPS.
“I was unhappy hearing that rhetoric,” Donohue said. “And I started to think it doesn’t represent me. I think our schools are great.”