Loudoun School Board Wants Conservatives to Shut Up, Aide Says

Jillian Schneider | June 25, 2024

(The Lion) — The Loudoun County, Virginia school board wants to “stifle” its aides from speaking critically against the board and district, one employee says.

At its recent meeting, the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Board proposed revisions to policies for the board’s staff aides, including to “refrain from conduct that actively disparages, criticizes, or defames the School Board, School Board members, LCPS, its employees, either publicly or privately, or that interferes with the implementation of a decision made by the School Board.”  

But many Loudoun parents see the proposal as a First Amendment violation – including one of the board’s own aides. 

“They are overreaching again and again, and they’ll try to stifle anyone that doesn’t agree with what they want to push forward,” said the LCPS employee and mother of three. “I understand that this body does not want to hear me talk about the boy in my daughter’s locker room. I know that you don’t want to hear about the girl that stared my son down while he stood at a urinal.”  

She said board aides are aware that speaking publicly may cost them their jobs, but she isn’t letting that stop her.  

“I will continue to unapologetically speak to the protection, safety, and the education of my children regardless of any policy that this body chooses to pass,” she said. “The law is clear. This board absolutely does not have the authority to punish me for exercising my First Amendment right to speak publicly or privately.”  

Others who submitted written feedback to the board felt the same. 

“Board Aides should be allowed to express their criticisms of the board in their role as parents and taxpayers,” wrote LCPS parent Michael Rivera. “Policies just like this further erode the trust of the community with the school board that has disrespected parents and taxpayers during public comment and is not interested in doing anything contrary to an obvious political agenda.”

Another commenter described the proposed policy as Orwellian. 

“This is a whopping violation of the [First] Amendment. LCPS has no right to tell anyone that they can’t criticize the school board of LCPS,” said Colin Doniger, a member of the Loudoun Education Alliance of Families (LEAF). “It’s Orwellian and deeply concerning that you have staff who think it was ok to even consider putting this into policy.” 

Only one community member expressed support of the policy with a written comment.  

“Board aides may have a political agenda and should not be allowed to overwhelm staff with unreasonable requests,” Janann Mercker wrote. “I completely agree that: Board Aides should show respect for and work with School Board members and LCPS employees in a spirit of harmony and cooperation in spite of potential differences of opinion.”  

In the past several years, LCPS has been the object of several controversies, ranging from a male transgender student sexually assaulting a girl in the girls’ bathroom to a fentanyl crisis to turning cameras off at board meetings.  

District leadership has been consistently under fire for its lack of transparency and hiding vital information from parents. 

This article was made available to EdNews Virginia via The Lion, a publication of the Herzog Foundation.