A week after Loudoun County School Board Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) announced she would remove him from two leadership posts, John Beatty (Catotcin) responded to his critics for the first time publicly Tuesday.
Beatty came under fire for comments he made in February during an equity training program designed to allow participants to better understand concepts of white privilege and implicit bias—among the elements seen as fueling systematic racism in the school system. During the session, Beatty said formerly enslaved people may have been less well off after their emancipation without having their needs provided by the former slave owners. In the weeks that followed, the Equity Committee and MSAAC formally requested that Beatty be removed from his seat on the Equity Committee and chairmanship of the board’s Discipline Committee because of the remark. The president of the Loudoun NAACP called for his resignation from the board.
Amid the uproar, Beatty and other School Board member stayed publicly silent on the matter. Earlier this month voted to not consider the requests for his removal, an action that drew more criticism.
On Tuesday, Beatty addressed the issue for the first time in public.
“I think we can all agree that it is awful when people say mean-spirited and untrue things; it is even worse when they say it about you,” he said. “I’ve been under attack since February by activists unconcerned with the truth and only looking to score political points. I took this seriously and met individually with my accusers. Yet they continued in their blind partisanship, doubling down in their attacks against me. Do we want to further tear apart our collective dialogue by allowing baseless lies to poison our community? Like a game of telephone this lie has become distorted with each passing day, warped to represent the worst. Each accusation carries the flimsiest logic and is riddled with bad-faith assumptions. The Board knew the truth and they supported me. They were able to look beyond simple, ugly partisanship.”
Beatty said the attacks against him were harming students.
“So now it is time to my part. I’m going to double down against racism. I am going to double down that I abhor slavery and its ugly legacy. It is time to stop and reset. This acrimony and negativity is hurting our children who are our ultimate responsibility. We need to work to provide the best education for every child regardless of their skin color,” he said. “A good beginning would be to provide extra tutoring opportunities for standardized tests and entrance examinations at no cost to the student so that all of our students have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
“As for the people who started and spread these lies, I just want you to know that I forgive you and I pray for you each and every day,” Beatty said.
Also, on Tuesday, the School Board released a statement reiterating “there is no room for racism or hatred in Loudoun County Public Schools.”
“The recent vigils, protests, and civil activism in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd and other African Americans has highlighted the persistence of systemic racism in the United States. Loudoun County is not immune from the effects of this historic problem, and the desire to make positive change is evident in the significant number of citizens in our own county who have attended peaceful demonstrations and marches throughout the community in recent days,” the statement reads.
“The Loudoun County School Board is committed to working with the school administration to create a safe, empathetic, respectful, and supportive learning environment for every student. Each young person who comes to our schools deserves access to equitable opportunities to maximize their learning potential and receive the social and emotional support they need to grow, unencumbered by bias, or disadvantaged by preconceived notions.
We will advance our progress by examining our own biases, engaging in the difficult conversations that need to occur, and working with the Equity Committee, the Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee, the Special Education Advisory Committee, the NAACP, and other members of our community to address these needs,” board members wrote.
Read the full statement here.