Judge Denies Request for Injunction Against LCPS Equity Programs

A federal District Court judge denied a request for an injunction in a class action case on Friday filed by five families against Loudoun County Public Schools over the district’s Student Equity Ambassador Program and the Bias Incident Reporting System, both initiatives of the school district to combat the reported racial inequity in schools.

Pattie Hidalgo-Menders, Scott Mineo, and three other unnamed families alleged that the SEA program discriminates against white students and violates their First Amendment rights, and that the reporting system “chills protected speech in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments,” according to the complaint. 

Menders has been a vocal critic of alleged influence of Critical Race Theory in LCPS, and is the president of the Loudoun County Republican Women’s Club.

“Culturally responsive training, diversity, equity, whatever you want to call it, they’re all components of Critical Race Theory. That’s exactly what it is—a theory,” Menders said to the School Board during its Aug. 10 meeting.

The complaint was filed June 2 in the Eastern Virginia District Court in Alexandria.

Menders, Mineo, and the other families are represented by the Liberty Justice Center, a conservative nonprofit based in Chicago. The group sought damages for the alleged harm to students caused by having their First Amendment infringed upon, as well as an order that the school district shut down both programs.

The Student Equity Ambassadors Program elevates the concerns about racial equity in schools. Each middle and high school has an ambassador who meets several times a year with the school division’s equity director and the equity supervisor. While there is no requisite race for a student to become an ambassador, the district describes the ambassadors as “a racially diverse group of students with a collective passion for social justice.” The group, Parents Against Critical Race Theory, shared a document from the school district about the program, stating that only students of color may participate. The final iteration of the school’s notice shows that all students may participate in the program regardless of race. 

It is unclear from the filing whether any of the plaintiffs’ children wished to participate in the program. Judge Anthony J. Trenga concluded that the case failed to establish that the group was created to discriminate against white students.

The Bias Incident Reporting System allows students and staff to anonymously inform administrators of incidents where they’ve experienced bias or discrimination. A reported incident may be investigated by school administrators.

Menders said that her children are censoring themselves in school because they do not wish to be punished by the reporting system. The plaintiffs also said their children “would like to discuss various views on race relations, gender identity, and other controversial political issues from the premise that ‘everyone is equal and we should strive for a colorblind society.’”

The judge ruled that the bias reporting system discourages free speech no more than LCPS’s current harassment policy does.

“This case is in the very early stages. We look forward to following the roadmap laid out in the judge’s opinion and believe the facts will confirm our arguments,” Daniel Suhr, managing attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, said.

At this point, both sides will continue to gather evidence on the matter. The school district must file an answer to the complaint or a motion to dismiss the case. The school district is represented by Stacy Haney.

15 thoughts on “Judge Denies Request for Injunction Against LCPS Equity Programs

  • 2021-08-16 at 10:49 am

    VOTE THESE SCHOOL BOARD YAHOOS OUT! I understand there is a recall happening, but it’s very unlikely that any of the board members will actually be removed. So we need to focus on the next election and get out the vote so that these current members are gone and replaced with sensible community members who prioritizes educating our children versus creating social justice warriors. School should be a fun learning environment. Not where they have to fear for saying the wrong thing (or pronoun) and being ratted out.

    • 2021-08-16 at 5:08 pm

      The recall is difficult. But, remember, this is a reaction to the state policy that the Democrats in Richmond forced this year. The House of Delegates is on the ballot this year. To stop the madness, stop the Democrats and vote Republican.

  • 2021-08-16 at 11:11 am

    It looks to me like Republican “Free Speech” means speech without consequences. Doesn’t matter who you hurt, it’s “Free Speech.”

    • 2021-08-16 at 8:24 pm

      Are you suggesting if words cause “offense” or “ill will”, they can be banned? In or out of school?

      • 2021-08-17 at 9:11 am

        Are you suggesting that racial slurs are acceptable?

        • 2021-08-18 at 10:30 am

          Are you suggesting that:

          1. All speech that “offends” in schools can be banned? Simple question. Can you answer it because THAT is the policy of LCPS.

          2. Racial slurs, regardless of being acceptable, are not protected speech in public forums?

    • 2021-08-17 at 11:11 am

      That is not only the Republican Free speech but it’s the definition of Constitutional Free Speech.

  • 2021-08-16 at 6:06 pm

    Loudoun education is in the rapid process of cratering into a deep dark pit where skin color dictates your future. That, of course, is racist.
    Parents are rapidly pulling their kids from this mess and placing kids in schools that actually teach math, reading and writing.

    Fire the school board. They went rogue long ago.

  • 2021-08-17 at 11:33 am

    The super best part is a governmental organization conditioning kids to become anonymous informants. Thugs like it best when the people are terrified of each other.

  • 2021-08-18 at 7:20 am

    It is truly hysterical that people in Loudoun County claim white people are being descriminated against. Facts are that every “white person” alive today benefited from segregation and racism and now some white people are screaming when this truth is pointed out.

    • 2021-08-18 at 11:39 am

      Your “facts” aren’t actually facts, but merely a reflection of a very limited understanding of United States history.

      Are you denying that throughout this nation’s history, various groups of “white” people have faced discrimination? Based on their religion, their nationality or their other apparent traits.

  • 2021-08-18 at 12:06 pm

    Pro-CRT folks routinely using arguments like Hal does, when they know full and well that most Loudouners are not opposed to teaching a more accurate account of history. What they are opposed to is the ‘remedy’ for past discrimination that CRT (and any equity program) practitioners recommend to make amends. The materials indicate that White children must be taught that they are oppressors, and POCs (but only certain ones) must be taught that they are victims, with no regard how this will affect children. Balkanization would be the end result, and we saw how that turned out in the 90s.

    CRT/equity programs also say that there is no way out of this except through reparations and the use of ‘cancel culture’ to fire Whites who are not fully on board from their jobs and replace them with someone who is more ideologically ‘pure.’ Basically, the solution to past racism is more racism, and everyone who doesn’t agree is expected to just accept that and move on. And let’s not forget that CRT/equity programs also go way over the line by incriminating capitalism and democracy itself, which of course must be torn down and replaced with a system that guarantees equal outcomes…where everyone would be equally miserable, of course.

    Teaching a more inclusive version of history is not the problem, but the remedies for past racism would most certainly divide this nation even further.

    This is how the USSR operated, with the exception being that we don’t round up enemies of the state and ship them to remote labor camps.

  • 2021-08-18 at 12:41 pm

    If you’re looking to buy a home or open a business in Loudoun County, make sure you understand where the school district and county are going,,,,into the garbage.

  • 2021-08-18 at 4:41 pm

    You say “every white person” benefitted from segregation. Really? Even the ones born to drug addicts? Or the ones who immigrates to the US after civil rights laws were enforced? We’re Asians also benefited by these segregation laws?

    Because the question today is whether group outcomes must be equal or else the differences are necessarily the result of discrimination. This is demonstrably false especially when explicit racial preferences are given to minorities. The complete absence of data, rigorous logic, and research from the CRT advocates is deafening.

  • 2021-08-22 at 9:34 am

    These so-called equity programs are unconstitutional (violating Amendment XIV’s “equal protection” clause) and illegal (violating Title VI).

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