Loudoun Supervisors Seek Study of School Segregation Harm

Supervisors voted Tuesday to work with the School Board “to study the harm caused by Loudoun County’s discrimination of Black students and seek out ways to rectify disparities.”

The project was proposed by Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian). While her Sept. 17 announcement and board item did not lay out details about the form that study should take, Briskman said that was intentional to leave space for the Joint School Board-Board of Supervisors Committee to have that discussion, and suggested a “truth and reconciliation committee.”

Her office’s proposal cites examples around the country such as city mayors committing to pay reparations for slavery, Georgetown University paying reparations to the descendants of 272 slaves the university sold in 1838 to save itself from bankruptcy, and House Bill 1980 passed this year introduced by Loudoun Del. David A. Reid (D-32) establishing the Enslaved Ancestors College Access Scholarship and Memorial Program. That bill requires five state universities to identify and memorialized enslaved people who worked at those schools, and provide “a tangible benefit such as a college scholarship or community-based economic development program for individuals or specific communities with a demonstrated historic connection to slavery that will empower families to be lifted out of the cycle of poverty.”

Briskman called rectifying Loudoun’s racial disparities “a moral imperative.”

At the Sept. 21 board meeting, County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) identified one specific topic to tackle and seek to rectify: the history of the Douglass School.

There, the Black community came together to buy land for school, but the local School Board refused to build on land they didn’t own, forcing the group to sell property they’d bought for $4,000 to the school district for $1. Even then, the School Board repeatedly declined to appropriately construct and outfit the building, leaving Black families once again struggling to get their children an education.

Addressing the Douglass School experience won unanimous support from supervisors, but Briskman’s more general proposal to send the commission to the joint committee was approved on a 6-3 vote, with all three Republicans opposed. Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said he wants to have the discussion, but struggled with the vague intent, while Supervisor Caleb E. Kershner (R-Catoctin) denied there is systemic racism.

“I want to do the right thing, I’m just struggling with it process-wise, because the motion doesn’t give any direction,” Letourneau said.

“I think Loudoun County has in large part overcome this. I think in large part it has,” Kershner said. “And obviously there are pockets, but not from a perspective of a systematic problem.”

That drew rebukes from other supervisors, particularly the Black members of the board.

“There is nothing like one of my colleagues dispelling the myth of systemic racism,” said Supervisor Sylvia R. Glass (D-Broad Run). “We don’t have to go back 40 or 50 years. I can go and talk to my sons about the experiences that they had at their high school.”

Vice Chair Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) pointed to a report from the state Attorney General identifying issues of systemic racism in Loudoun’s school system today, along with experiences his own son has had in school. And Randall said the effort was not about placing blame on people today—it’s about understanding that life is more difficult for some people because of the color of their skin.

“I find it really incredible with the same people who think we should never take down statues because we shouldn’t forget history are the same people who think that every town, city, hamlet and village should not be having a tough conversation about the history of race and race relations,” Randall said, likely referencing Kershner’s arguments last year defending the statue of a Confederate soldier that then stood on the courthouse grounds.

The Douglass School story is only part of the history of Loudoun, one of the last school districts in the country to desegregate. Loudoun Schools were integrated in 1968, 14 years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education ruling that declared separate public schools based on race to be unconstitutional.

The county board fought integration, including supporting a state constitutional amendment that would allow it to help pay for white students to go to private schools, avoiding integrated public schools; withholding work on Douglass Elementary School and Douglass High School unless “reasonable assurance was given by the parents of colored children of the County that they conform to the opinion that their education be promoted better by their continued school attendance on a segregated basis,” and joining the effort to defund schools rather than integrate. During that time, the School Board was appointed by the Board of Supervisors.

“The purpose of a truth and reconciliation committee is to hold public hearings to establish the scale and impact of a past injustice, typically involving wide-scale human rights abuses, and make it part of the permanent, unassailable public record,” according to Briskman’s proposal.

14 thoughts on “Loudoun Supervisors Seek Study of School Segregation Harm

  • 2021-09-22 at 8:14 am

    This obsession with race and racism by the hopelessly “woke” supervisors and school board members is divisive nonsense. Most of their constituents weren’t here or weren’t born when these racial transgressions occurred. Comments by certain supervisors regarding racial slights to their children as proof of systemic racism is pathetic.
    This country and this county have achieved remarkable assimilation and success by all races that we, as citizens, should be proud of and build upon.
    Yet race baiters like Briskman and her woke mob insist on dividing us.
    It all smacks of political deflection from the fact that Briskman, the BOS and school board have nothing else to offer and can’t govern.
    Reparations is nothing more than extorting innocent taxpayers for another handout.

  • 2021-09-22 at 8:53 am

    More “bleed and feed” from the Democrats. Democrats are constantly looking for ways to funnel money away from their political enemies and to their constituents. “Educational reparations” is just their latest pretense.

    There is a need for real educational reparations, and it is for all the parents who paid to send their kids to private or home school while paying property taxes to support government schools. Where is our check?

  • 2021-09-22 at 8:58 am

    Most of Loudoun residents did not grow up nor were born in Virginia so this study would be interesting its result pales by comparison to what both the BOS and school board are doing TODAY that is UNFAIR. The children in the Plaza Street neighborhood are denied the ability to walk to their own neighborhood elementary school (interestingly named Frederick Douglas E.S.)
    How can an elected body claim the high ground studying problems that directly affected people who are either retired or dead today while allowing these highly diverse and poor families to watch their children be unnecessarily bused out of downtown Leesburg to three schools. This creates a natural DISADVANTAGE to students already disadvantaged by poverty. How can such hypocrisy continue while partisan fictional rhetoric is promoted? THAT is the sad reality that electoral consequences become clear to those paying attention.

  • 2021-09-22 at 9:20 am

    I learned a lot watching last night’s supervisors meeting. As Juli Briskman noted, LCPS operated illegally for 14 years as a segregated school system. And what was a Black segregated school like in the olden days? A public commenter provided some horrific details.The school was dreadfully overcrowded, with a teacher handling multiple grades simultaneously. There was one restroom for students — an outhouse. Not far from the outhouse, students gathered for outdoor activities, dodging raw sewage. Would I like to see that lady receive reparations? You bet I would. It doesn’t have to be millions of dollars. But something tangible to express the county’s sincere regret & remorse. And poor Caleb Kershner. He tried to claim no systemic racism exists today in Loudoun County. But he didn’t stand a chance against Chair Randall. She told Mr. Kershner how LCPS gave her son a book covering prison gang rape to prepare him for his future. Yes, racism is alive & well in Loudoun County. Thank you BOS for your actions last night.

    • 2021-09-22 at 12:00 pm

      Those responsible for past injustices 50 years+ ago are now long retired or dead.
      Those harmed by these injustices are now, most likely, retired or dead.
      The self-flagellation of the board of supervisors over historic injustices that the vast majority of their constituents have no responsibility for, is divisive and pathetic.
      If Randall did tell a fellow supervisor that her son was given a “book covering gang rape to prepare him for his future” by the LCPS, she should resign or be thrown out of office immediately.
      Yes, racial arson and intolerance by the woke liberals running Loudoun and it school system does exist and is rampant.

      • 2021-09-23 at 9:52 am

        I’m going to assume paulmase is white, because it’s typically white people who seem to think we already live in a post-racial society and would like everyone to stop talking about race already because this all happened 50-odd years ago.

        That’s not the case.

        • 2021-09-27 at 12:19 pm

          “That’s not the case”

          According to you, and of course those who have a vested interest in ensuring that we don’t get past half-century old wrongs.

    • 2021-09-22 at 12:39 pm

      Chair Randall made my point but why doesn’t she enforce it now that she and the BOS can? Insist parents have direct input into the performance review of LCPS staff! No system operates well without checks and balances. No system repairs itself without a forcing factor which a parent who had such a terrible message given to their son should have had against that teacher. I met her sons and they are wonderful young men and NEVER should have had such BS put on them. 🙂

  • 2021-09-22 at 11:19 am

    The (D) political plantation is failing.

    When we see them pursue an agenda such as this, you know they are simply out of ideas to keep minorities under their control.

    Biden (D) has gotten a pass for his career-long history of racism.
    Just this past week he referred to a FEMA leader (who is black) as a “boy.”
    During the campaign last year he told a radio audience that they “ain’t black” if they didn’t vote for him.
    He referred to integrated schools as “racial jungles.”
    He called Senator Byrd his “mentor.”

    The (D) party is rotten to the core. It’s time for voters to reject them. ALL of them.

    And please don’t overlook the fact that these (D) LoCo Supervisors are INTENTIONALLY CONFLATING “slavery” and “segregration.”
    They’re not the same. Or even remotely similar. Both were terrible. But please… this is a dishonest switcheroo. And taxpayers will be on the hook.

  • 2021-09-22 at 12:00 pm

    A school system with declining test scores and policies promoting hate. Coming tax hikes on Loudoun families. It takes decades to improve the clogged road system. Same roads with litter, and lack of mowing and tree trimming. Gas, food, and housing prices spiking. A border that looks like Sudan.

    The order has come from up high down to local leftist governments; Do anything to distract from failed governance and regressive public policies. These are not serious people.

  • 2021-09-22 at 2:24 pm

    According to the Loudoun County schools website, the black population in the schools is 7%. The Asian and Hispanic population are far higher but we don’t hear a thing about whether they’re experiencing any issues. This is just the parroting of a national political agenda rather than actual concern for the student body

  • 2021-09-22 at 7:17 pm

    Three white Republican males from my family fought – at great personal expense – to free slaves one hundred sixty years ago. One was wounded, and one imprisoned in Andersonville, where there was starvation cannibalism and disease. The later spent a year after the war in Walter Reed recovering. All three were away from their families and occupations for years. Am I owed anything according to the racist Democrats on our Board of Supervisors?

    I don’t expect anything from anyone else, and I detest race-hucksters, who want to perpetuate racism, and pay minorities to vote Democrat with my tax money.

    Anyone who votes for Democrats today is a poor excuse for an American. The American ideal is equality before the law.

  • 2021-09-23 at 8:45 pm

    Nothing stirs the old MAGA warriors like putting the word “Race” in a headline. You almost feel sorry for them but then you remember these are the people who are OK with destroying American democracy, overturning elections when their candidate doesn’t win, yelling about freedom and then happy to take yours away if you don’t agree with them… and on and on.

    • 2021-09-24 at 10:59 am

      I’m going to take a wild guess that you were A-OK with the never-ending challenges to the 2000 POTUS election results?
      Or perhaps the 2016 election? You know… when the (D)s demanded an end to the electoral college system.
      Or how about the past FOUR YEARS, where the (D)s pursued baseless charges against the lawfully-elected president?

      Care to try again?

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