As expected, the School Board on Monday moved forward with plans to expand the division’s Equity Committee, but not before an unexpected attempt to end the panel’s work.
Last month, the board agreed in a series of straw votes to add seven more seats to the committee, which was established in 2019 and was operating with 22 voting members.
First, the board added a seat for someone representing the LGBTQ community, joining seats designated for representatives of other minority groups, including the All Dulles Area Muslin Society, the Loudoun NAACP, and of the Hindu, Jewish and Latinx communities. Also, six seats were added for community members to be appointed by the individual School Board members who do not serve on the committee themselves.
The additions were approved on an 8-1 vote.
John Beatty (Catoctin) opposed the action. During the discussion, Beatty made a motion to disband the committee altogether, stating he felt the group had completed its chartered mission. No other board member supported his effort.
Beatty had served on the committee early in 2020, until he was removed by Board Chairwoman Branda Sheridan in February. 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.
The Equity Committee, which meets monthly, is tasked with researching and making recommendations regarding all school division practices and policies related to equity.