A political action committee (PAC) launched Tuesday with the intent of unseating multiple school board members in one of Virginia’s most populous counties because of an ongoing feud over critical race theory.
The us-regions school board members showed a complete “misunderstanding of their duties and responsibility as elected officials,” reads a press release from Fight for Schools PAC.
It specifically names Beth Barts, Brenda Sheridan, Ian Serotkin, Denise Corbo, Leslee King and Atoosa Reaser. Each were reportedly part of a secret Facebook group where members compiled a list of parents who opposed critical race theory in the school district, according to the Daily Wire.
Tuesday’s announcement comes amid division and turmoil within one of the nation’s top counties for public education. For months, parents and school officials have wrestled with questions about reopenings and equity trainings.
Last month, the Daily Wire reported that members of the “Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County” Facebook group made disparaging comments about other parents who opposed critical race theory.
The PAC is led by Ian Prior, a Loudoun County parent who previously worked for the National Republican Congressional Committee and former President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice.
“For the sake of our children, Loudoun County parents cannot wait until 2023 to elect new leaders,” Prior said.
“Fortunately, Virginia law provides a remedy for new elections; recalling government officials that have abused their office or been incompetent in the performance of their duties. Both apply here, whether applied to the school board’s failure to reopen schools, its implementation of dangerously divisive critical race theory, and its active or passive participation in tactics designed to intimidate students, parents and teachers from exercising their First Amendment rights.”
The PAC is a project of Loudoun Parents for Education (LPE), which launched a recall effort at the end of last month. That press conference saw about 25 parents, according to Prior. He told Fox News that around 300-400 people have signed up on LPE’s website to help advance his cause. Prior added that he’s willing to accept money outside of the state and county, noting that he views this as a model for parents around the country to follow.
Starting with a budget goal of $250,000-$500,000, the group plans to use “earned media, paid media and polling to build public awareness on what is happening in Loudoun County’s schools.”
The press release also notes plans for a campaign to collect signatures for the recall, as well as find new candidates to replace them.
One of those targeted for recall – Beth Barts – has already faced significant consequences for her social media activity. Last month, the school board voted to censure her, finding that she violated several components of a school board code of conduct. School Board Chair Sheridan, whom the PAC is also trying to unseat, announced just days after the censure that she was removing Barts from her committee assignments.
Loudoun County Public Schools did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. While the county has denied teaching critical race theory, parents like Prior argue that their equity initiatives promote the same concepts typically associated with that school of thought.
Outside of disputes over labels, the tension in the county has been palpable. A middle school teacher, who is also a member of the secret Facebook group, issued a scathing statement last week that appeared to be directed at parents who opposed the county’s trainings.
“Over the past few weeks, a small group of Loudoun residents have put their racism on display for the nation,” said the speaker, who was identified as Andrea Weiskopf.
“They have been emboldened by the meekness and silence of those on the school board and in the community … it is the duty of the school board to acknowledge such overt and blatant racism against the students under your care.”
Prior, who also spoke at the virtual meeting, called her comments defamatory.
In a statement to Fox News, LCPS said: “The individual who spoke is a Loudoun County Public Schools teacher, not an elected official or a member of the school division’s administration. Teachers have the right, as individuals, to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech. Loudoun County Public Schools has stated, consistently, that it does not condone the actions of employees – or anyone – who would target fellow members of the community for expressing their viewpoint.”
The interim superintendent previously issued a statement defending the county’s practices.
“In explaining LCPS’ equity priorities, it might be helpful to state what they are not. They are not an effort to indoctrinate students and staff into a particular philosophy or theory. What they are is an effort to provide a welcoming, inclusive, affirming environment for all students,” said Interim Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler.
“LCPS’ work on equity is a journey that requires the commitment of staff at all levels. I feel the staff’s work, which has been sustained, honest and undertaken in good faith, has been misrepresented recently by some members of the public,” he added.