The Board of Elections this week completed the certification of signatures on the removal petitions against Loudoun School Board Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) and Vice Chairwoman Atoosa Reaser (Algonkian), allowing the effort to advance in Circuit Court.
The petition to remove Reaser amassed 1,783 valid signatures, while the petition to remove Sheridan collected 1,158 valid signatures. Signatures are only valid if they belong to a registered voter in the official’s district.
The removal effort is spearheaded by the group Fight for Schools, which launched the campaign last spring to combat board members’ progressive social justice policies and their involvement in the private Facebook group Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County, a violation of public meetings laws, the group alleges.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj, who, for now, would prosecute the case, requested verification of the signatures.
“As the petition was initiated and filed without consultation with our office, we need to ensure that there is strict compliance with the law. It is our duty, as the Commonwealth’s Attorney, to protect the participants and the process,” Biberaj said, and referenced Virginia Code Section 24.2-233, that requires the Commonwealth’s Attorney to ensure that a petition has legitimacy under law prior to coming before the court.
Fight for Schools has filed motions to disqualify Biberaj from prosecuting the cases. A similar motion was granted in the case to remove former Leesburg representative Beth Barts. Barts resigned on Nov. 2, citing threats to her family, rendering the removal case against her moot.
Fight for Schools also has said its has the necessary signatures to file petitions to seek the removal both Denise Corbo (At-Large) and Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridge), although there has not yet been an announcement about filing decisions for those petitions.
To remove an elected official in Virginia, a petition must amass a signature count equal to 10% of the votes cast in their election. Once the petition is filed, the petitioners are no longer parties in the case, and the prosecutor represents the petitioners.
A hearing for motions in the case to remove Sheridan is set for Jan. 5.