School Board Recall Effort Nears Signature Thresholds

As conservative group Fight for Schools edges closer to its signature collecting goal to recall six Loudoun School Board members, an effort by activists in neighboring Fairfax County reached its community support threshold, as The Open FCPS Coalition submitted its first recall petition to a circuit court last Monday.

The fate of Fairfax County School Board member Elaine Tholen (Dranesville) will depend on whether a judge will review the 5,000-signature petition, and advance the case to a trial to possibly remove Tholen from office. There, signatures were collected by the Open Schools Coalition.

In Loudoun, Fight for Schools reported on Monday having 97 percent of signatures needed to file a petition to remove Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridge). The group did not provide an update on the petition to remove Beth Barts (Leesburg); two weeks ago the group reported collecting 93 percent of needed signatures.

While the Fairfax recall effort was spurred by the School Board’s handling of opening schools during the pandemic, the Loudoun effort began as a response to School Board members’ membership in private Facebook groups where parents opposed to Critical Race Theory in schools were identified. 

At a press conference in June, Ian Prior, executive director of Fight for Schools, said the group’s attention would focus on collecting signatures to remove Barts, dubbing it “Operation Finish the Job.”

Barts has been a main target of Fight for Schools. Ahead of the June 22 School Board meeting, the group drove a billboard bus around a large crowd calling for her removal. Volunteers have been door-knocking throughout Leesburg in hopes of drumming up support.

A petition to remove an elected official must have signatures equal to 10% of the number of votes cast in the last election for that office, from voters living in that officer’s jurisdiction. Once a petition reaches that threshold, it is submitted to the Circuit Court. At that point, the petitioners are no longer involved in the case; they do not present evidence or testify against the official, although Fight for Schools may attempt to submit evidence for review. The Commonwealth’s Attorney may launch an investigation into the official’s actions or alleged wrongdoing, and then decide whether to prosecute the case.

The most recent attempt to remove a Loudoun elected official was the 2014 effort to recall then-Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio over his alleged misuse of county resources. In that case, local judges and the Loudoun commonwealth’s attorney recused themselves. The case was assigned to the Arlington County commonwealth’s attorney who impaneled a special grand jury, which ultimately did not issue indictments in the case.

Charlie King, the attorney who represented Delgaudio and is representing Barts, thinks the same thing will happen this time around if Fight for Schools files a petition.

“If Ian Prior wants to give the Commonwealth’s Attorney and myself subpoena power over God and everybody, two months before an election, I say ‘go ahead’,” King said of the potential filing of a petition. 

Aside from petitions for Serotkin and Barts, the petition to remove Denise Corbo (At-Large) is furthest along, with a reported 76 percent of required signatures.

13 thoughts on “School Board Recall Effort Nears Signature Thresholds

  • 2021-07-26 at 3:26 pm

    Let me first say that I support the removal of this LoCo school board.

    But, and this is a very big BUT….

    Having reviewed the mailer from Fight for Schools that arrived at my mailbox last weekend, I can say that I still (STILL!!!) don’t know how to go about signing the appropriate petitions. ABSOLUTELY ZERO information about the actual effort. Just a bunch of rhetoric and a plea for money.

    If you’re going to spend money to reach out to voters who may agree with the cause, why on earth would you not tell them how to achieve your actual goal?

    I’m not trying to be cynical, but this isn’t a good look.

    • 2021-07-27 at 11:27 am

      If you visit their web site and go to the events page you will find numerous scheduled events to sign petitions.

      I contacted them and they offered to send a volunteer to my home to allow me to sign but by that point I had already found an event and signed the petitions I could sign.

      I also get emails from other sympathetic organizations that mention petition signing events.

  • 2021-07-26 at 4:17 pm

    Proving once again there’s no shortage of parents who set a very bad example for their children. The fact that they’re energized over a fantastic misunderstanding of critical race theory suggests there might be just a bit of white fear motivating these folks.

    • 2021-07-27 at 8:30 am

      Please explain to the class, in your own words, what “critical race theory” is and why is belongs in the Loudoun County Public Schools.

  • 2021-07-26 at 8:22 pm

    Why is this happening? Neither school system teaches Critical Race Theory and both school systems have enacted legally required protections for transgender students. Their opposition revels in deliberate lies and apparently hates democracy.

    I will vote against anyone who traffics in these lies and hatred.

    • 2021-07-27 at 11:25 am

      So you plan to vote Republican? The only people peddling division, hate, etc, are the leftists… aka the Democrats. The leftists are the ones who keep trying to divide and subdivide people… playing one group off of another and keeping those groups fighting while they futz around. Think about it. Democrats enacted Jim Crow laws in the late 1800s/early 1900s… and now they’ve got the people they supposedly want to help (thank you, LBJ… and if you don’t know what I mean you need to look up the quote he reportedly said about how a certain epithet would be voting for the next 200 years) DEMANDING SEGREGATION! Demanding the very thing that people like Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and many others fought against.

  • 2021-07-27 at 7:00 am

    Charlie is correct in assuming God is on Ian’s side in this matter as for “everybody else” there are no pumpkin lilies on the list, these are the people who show up and do the work.
    Barts is the tip of the spear, parlor tricks won’t save her and Charlie’s permission to “go ahead” is not needed.
    If it is a veiled threat Ian does not seem impressed as this same message by Mr. King was posted on Facebook some time back and the recall has continued like a full force gale.

  • 2021-07-27 at 11:17 am

    Why does this paper label the group “conservative?” I don’t recall them labeling other groups as liberal or conservative in the past.

    The people signing the petitions certainly aren’t conservatives. Liberals are pretty mad that LCPS is dumbing down their kids’ educations and are more than happy to sign the petitions.

  • 2021-07-27 at 3:26 pm

    To clarify a point that keeps coming up (which is addressed in the article too), the recall petition is because the School Board members broke the law by having a secret Facebook group. While there are a myriad of other issues parents are angry about (i.e. CRT, dumbing down academics, Academies of Loudoun selecting by lottery, boys in girls showers….), the recall petition’s focus is the School board members breaking the law.

  • 2021-07-27 at 3:30 pm

    All nine school board members should be recalled!

    All of them have pushed a political agenda that has never benefitted Loudoun youth.

    Ian Serotkin goes with the flow and has never taken a stand for kids.

    The recall effort has BROAD support. Parents are ticked and are doing something about a group of radicals that don’t want parent input among a long list of other things.

  • 2021-07-27 at 9:54 pm

    If the Commonwealth Attorney is involved and doesn’t recuse herself isn’t it a conflict of interest for multiple reasons? Also, wasn’t she a part of the Facebook group? Correct me if I’m wrong.

    • 2021-07-28 at 1:51 pm

      The six school board members being recalled, the County Commonwealth’s Attorney, and the Algonkian District Supervisor… eight people in all as either active or passive members of a group that is advocating performing potentially illegal acts against people who disagree with them, or at a bare minimum simply harassing them in some capacity.

  • 2021-07-28 at 9:01 am

    I support the school board recall effort and look forward to signing petition whenever I come across it….and to think 10k signatures and probably another 10k that don’t know where to sign the petition. That’s a lot of people not happy with the way things are going…and bonus payments for administration instead of putting into the classroom was the last straw…..

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