School Board Removal Petitions Dismissed, Fight for Schools Eyes VA-10 Race

The effort to remove two School Board members appears to be over following a Circuit Court hearing this morning during which the petitions against Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) and Atoosa Reaser (Algonkian) were dismissed for lack of substance in front of a packed courtroom.

The hearing punctuates a year-long effort to remove School Board members for their involvement in a private Facebook group and support of progressive social policies in schools. The removal petitions garnered national interest as education became a flashpoint political issue during the 2021 gubernatorial election.

Retired Judge Thomas Padrick Jr. of the Second Judicial Circuit in Virginia Beach was designated to hear the cases after all Loudoun judges recused themselves. He ruled that because special prosecutor Joseph D. Platania found no evidence of neglect of office, the motion to quash the petitions was granted.

Platania, a prosecutor from Charlottesville, was appointed the special prosecutor for case against Reaser in April after Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj (D) recused herself.

“By the way, there was no one really interested in being the Commonwealth’s Attorney in these cases,” Padrick joked.

Padrick ruled that Platania would handle both cases because the petitions were identical.

He also denied motions from both Fight for Schools, the group that organized the removal effort, and the NACCP to intervene in the cases.

“Fight for Schools and the NAACP are not elected officials. They come from good organizations,” he said, “But they’re advocacy groups.”

Fight for Schools’ attorney David Warrington argued that the group should be permitted to enter the case because prosecutors are elected officials and might themselves be targets of such removal efforts.

Following the ruling, Reaser and Sheridan were met with hugs from fellow School Board members Harris Mahedavi (Ashburn) and Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridget), Supervisor Juli Briskman (Algonkian), state Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-33), and Loudoun NAACP President Pastor Michelle Thomas.

Reaser and Sheridan delivered emotional remarks outside of the courthouse.

“I will never be able to put into words the toll that this process took on my family, and the families I serve. What I will tell you is this type of malicious court filing has a chilling effect on democracy,” Reaser said. “It discourages good people from stepping up and serving their community.”

Sheridan thanked the two dozen School Board supporters present, calling the removal effort a “horrible abuse of the system.”

“It’s time to get back to work, so let’s do that,” she said.

Thomas said that justice prevailed during the hearings. 

“Today, we saw the law in action and the peoples’ resistance against unfounded voter suppression and action as well,” she said.

Fight for Schools Executive Director Ian Prior said that the group would likely wait for the conclusions of a special grand jury investigating the division’s handling of sexual assaults to take further action against the School Board.

He said that the group will pivot its focus to the race for Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, seeking the ouster of Jennifer Wexton (D).

“We’re in the process of filing with the Federal Election Commission to start spending money to defeat Wexton,” Prior said outside the courtroom. He said those filings would be completed later in the week.

 “For our purposes, we’ve seen and made our displeasure with the School Board known. … We’re going to look at candidates who are most vociferously against the Loudoun County School Board. That goes for the Board of Supervisors as well.” 

The group will continue to focus on the role of Superintendent Scott Ziegler and his administration in the handling of two sexual assaults in separate Ashburn high schools, each involving the same assailant. Ziegler has been the target of attacks throughout the removal campaign.

In his ruling, Padrick pointed to administrators’ potential culpability in the assaults, which were listed as grievances against School Board members on the petitions. He leveled a metaphor using police officers and city council.

“If a police officers negligently shoots somebody, the city council members aren’t going to get sued,” he said.

35 thoughts on “School Board Removal Petitions Dismissed, Fight for Schools Eyes VA-10 Race

  • 2022-05-23 at 1:23 pm
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    This was never anything more than GQP electioneering in the first place. “Lack of substance,” indeed! Some people are addicted to anger at this point, at the expense of our schools, neighbors, and kids. Get a real hobby, people, and stop wasting our tax dollars on your fantasy conspiracy theories.

    • 2022-05-23 at 5:10 pm
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      Exactly. Such an embarrassment to see this click-bait continually in the news. A VERY vocal and hateful minority.

  • 2022-05-23 at 1:37 pm
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    I’m glad these mean-spirited recall efforts were tossed out. Fight for Schools should be ashamed of themselves. What you put those ladies through — there are no words. I’m just glad Brenda & Atoosa are looking forward, not dwelling on the past. Now it’s time to get back to the business of educating Loudoun’s 80,000+ students. Long Live Loudoun Blue!

    • 2022-05-23 at 5:50 pm
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      Put a sock in it, Tim. These ladies should be ashamed of what they put LCPS students and their families through, well before covid.

  • 2022-05-23 at 2:02 pm
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    This is not a surprising outcome, as the chances of removing them were small to none. LoCo got lucky and a gift that Barts resigned, because she knew what she did was out of line and had no business being on the LCSB in the first place.

    This just means, we will need to put up with these bozo’s on the LCSB for another year. Not sure how much more damage they can do…this school system is pretty much near rock bottom. They’ve turned the schools into a social justice club versus a school teaching our kids the basics of reading, writing, math, etc. They are more concerned about the less than 1% population of the student body versus the 99%. They are more concerned about feeding into a social fad that is taking place, while disregarding long term effects that such acceptance and push will have on these same kids later in life. They don’t care that standardized testing has been in a decline — even pre-COVID.

    All I can say is that if we truly want change in our public schools then we need to vote out these current clowns and vote in members that have one thing in mind — teaching our kids the essentials to be prepared for life; not worrying about social justice causes and making our kids into liberal activists. I want my children to be able to do math, write a paragraph, learn how to type on a computer, be able to read a book on their own, understand that while we have stains as a nation from our history that we still live in the greatest country on the planet and they should be thankful for that.

    Pay attention to who is running Loudoun in these local elections. These elections matter, as we now know and most will appreciate moving forward. VOTE IN THOSE WHO CARE and sniff out the political saboteurs with their activist motives.

    • 2022-05-23 at 3:57 pm
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      Absolutely, Matthew. Voters definitely need to “sniff out the political saboteurs with their activist motives.” Check out Ian Prior and his affiliates. Look at who is funding these devotees of the former, twice impeached president. Let them fund their own private religious schools. As was said above, the need to find another hobby and leave our public schools alone.

    • 2022-05-23 at 4:52 pm
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      Beth Barts resigned because radical right extremists threatened to murder her and her family. She drafted her resignation the night police removed protection from her house. And to follow up, the Sheriffs office didn’t even investigate.

      Now “Fight For WSchools” is going after Wexton? Yah, pretty obviously an astroturf organization funded by the Republican Party.

      • 2022-05-23 at 6:13 pm
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        What is your proof? Have any of you seen death threats, pure false flag.

        • 2022-05-24 at 3:08 pm
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          Actually, some of the letters have been published through multiple news organizations.

  • 2022-05-23 at 4:06 pm
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    Of course. The ruling class establishment wins again.

  • 2022-05-23 at 4:21 pm
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    The legal reasoning (“…no evidence of neglect of office”) makes sense given Virginia law, but that standard illuminates a problem: Commonwealth law should allow recalls of any elected official simply because citizens do not like them or their actions. No judicial review should be part of a recall.

  • 2022-05-23 at 4:35 pm
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    The actions by Reaser, Sheridan, Morse, and their accomplices on the BOS like Briskman stand in stark contrast to what is coming out of Richmond where true professionals have been appointed. The recently released report from VDOE shows how our student test scores on objective national tests like the NAEP (a proficient score on NAEP means a student will not have to take remedial courses upon entering college – only about 40% of our kids score proficient) have been falling for nearly a decade!! The Democrat administrations of McAuliffe and Northam responded by actually lowering the standards on the SOLs and the “cut scores” used to determine how many questions students must answer correctly to achieve a certain achievement level!!

    Another report from Harvard showed how districts which kept their students in remote learning for much of 2020-2021 lost months of learning due to those policies. Virginia and LCPS we’re among the LAST to offer hybrid and in-person instruction.

    Each report highlights how the recent policies of those in office, Democrat Governor Northam and LCPS board members, actually widened achievement gaps between racial groups!! In contrast to the propaganda put out by Sheridan, Reaser, Serotkin, Corbo and Morse, their policies have not brought racial “equity” but rather failing schools to Loudoun. And the incompetent LCSB members just keep doubling down as they ban Honors courses in middle school and effectively eliminate Algebra 1 in 7th grade for our brightest students.

    Whether you are a parent to bored gifted kids or a single working parent hoping that your disadvantaged child will be the first in her family to attend college, the Loudoun school board members have failed you both for over a decade! And the SB members refuse to accept accountability for these failures or even change course despite increasing per pupil spending by 7-10%/year and even cutting the instructional year from 180 to 175 days to placate teachers who became accustomed to never leaving their house. It is time for voters to take action where the courts would not -> vote every single LCSB member out of office. And replace all those on the BOS who give blank checks for LCPS to waste while watching these test scores fall year after year after year (Randall, Letourneau, Glass, Saines, Briskman, Turner).

    • 2022-05-25 at 12:01 pm
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      So much misleading baloney masquerading as insight in this comment.

      First, the report you cite was created by people who want to dismantle public education and expand charter schools. Which is why the data and charts are cherry picked and designed to look bad when in fact the underlying data itself doesn’t support the contentions of the report; are you can’t compare SOLs to Common Core and I am a little surprised conservatives even want to do that after demonizing Common Core for years during the Obama administration (well, not surprised really — just thought I would point out the hypocrisy).

      Trotting out the Harvard study is similarly dumb since the first one measured through 2019. And had zero to do with sensibly closing schools during a deadly pandemic. Conflating the two is absurd.

      The reality is Virginia schools rank in the top 10 public school systems in the nation. And LCPS ranks highly within Virginia.

      You can lie with statistics all you want. But we see through this. The judge saw through the nonsense. You are all lying liars who lie. You hate our children, you hate your community and you hate America. Shame on you.

      • 2022-05-26 at 8:24 am
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        littledaddy, I know it must be hard when indisputable facts prove what a disaster LCPS is.

        Fact #1: Test scores have been falling for LCPS students and Virginia even before Covid hit. Even the Washington Post editorial post (not some conservative cabal) acknowledges this. The reason this pre-Covid fact is relevant apart from the disastrous distance learning lockdown of 2020-2021 is because this reflects on the overall ineffective policies of progressives on the Loudoun school board.

        Fact #2: Districts which remained in distance learning mode for most of 2020-2021 experienced months of additional learning loss. That is what the Harvard study says. Unlike Loudoun, many districts returned to in-person instruction and avoided such learning loss. You may not like that fact but the paranoid policy of LCPS hurt students’ education.

        Fact #3: Nobody expects talented (talent is independent of learned skills in school) children of affluent professionals in Loudoun County to score below average on standardized tests regardless of who is teaching them. So saying LCPS students score above average is irrelevant. LCPS students must be compared to other affluent students to gauge the effectiveness of LCPS. When such similar comparisons are made, LCPS literally scores at the very bottom of the barrel. See these charts from the PISA test at multiple LCPS high schools, all of which show abysmal performance.

        Teachers and the Left can try to fool voters as much as you like. It no longer works.

        • 2022-05-26 at 5:04 pm
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          Gadfly says wut?

          Brian, I get that you are full-on committed to belligerence and have somehow persuaded yourself that your fringe viewpoints are shared by others. But, they aren’t.

          Since you seem determined to put things into a left vs right framework (which is bizarre in and of itself — this is a common sense v. Lunatic debate), I would again point out the hilarity of fixating on test scores and comparing to the national norms conservatives spend years bashing.

          But more to the point, Virginia schools are thriving.

          # 4 in the nation by this metric: https://wallethub.com/edu/e/states-with-the-best-schools/5335

          #5 by this one: https://www.intelligent.com/the-best-and-worst-states-for-education/

          #10 here: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/rankings/education/prek-12

          Everyone in Loudoun County is sick and tired of your histrionics and your apparent determination to drag LCPS and Virginia education down. Go pound sand.

          • 2022-05-27 at 4:20 pm
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            little daddy, let me make sure I understand you. You say everybody is tired of me critiquing LCPS and Virginia’s K-12 educational system and performance. By “everyone”, do you include the Virginia governor, Secretary of Education, Supt of Instruction, and the whole VDOE administration who published the report for EO 1 that showed how Virginia’s test scores had fallen and that Virginia’s standards were the lowest in the nation far below the “nation’s report card” (NAEP)? Given that Youngkin won while basing his campaign on education (and that his campaign released their critique of SOL standards during the 2021 campaign about 1 week after I discussed that subject and the NAEP mapping report on my page), the only indisputable fact that every last person in this county can agree on is that a large number care about Virginia/LCPS’ failed school system and agree with me.

            The only reason you write these statements is because of that fact. Were my assertions false and nobody listened, none of you would be on here trying to hide these facts and discredit the research links I post. But thank you for bringing more attention to how poorly our students perform when compared to ANY similarly affluent kids in Virginia, the US or the world.

  • 2022-05-23 at 4:53 pm
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    I’m encouraged to see there are still judges like The Honorable Judge Padrick, who are committed to the Constitution and rule of law. Kudos to this ruling and apologies to school board members Sheridan and Reaser. School Board members are duly elected officials, reflecting the democratic will of the voting populace. They stepped up to do a public service and committed no wrong-doing. Yet they have been verbally harassed, and they and their families threatened and provoked, sometimes in violent ways. This harassment is intended, by religious right wing conspirators and fanatics, to control and subjugate the will of the people. This is an effort to force through a point of view despite the inability to accomplish that goal through peaceful, lawful means. This concerted effort at undermining our democracy must stop. The instigators, like Ian Prior, who seek power and self aggrandizement at the expense of people with good will, must be called out as bullies.

    • 2022-05-23 at 9:25 pm
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      Just curious, do you feel the same about those that protested outside the homes of the Supreme Court Justices?

    • 2022-05-23 at 9:49 pm
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      PaveLoudoun, 2 corrections.

      1. The people spoke by electing conservative candidates for ALL statewide positions this past November.

      2. Ian Prior, as an activist with no statutory authority, cannot be a bully any more than the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Watch or any other radical left wing advocacy organization (many of whom file lawsuits like FFS). Once upon a time, the ACLU would protect freedom of speech and smack down silly mislabeled arguments of yours like “harassment” and “bullying”, but recently they have caved to radicals like you seeking to overturn the Constitution – the ultimate source of our democracy.

      • 2022-05-24 at 3:10 pm
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        The only people trying to overturn the constitution has been Trump election deniers and insurrectionists.

    • 2022-05-24 at 4:36 pm
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      on April 6, @LoudounDems tweeted a thank you to those who participated in a phone bank lobbying for his appointment, with a picture of the Honorable Justice (Retired).
      Why would a political party lobby for a judge to hear a case involving two of their electeds?
      The question does answer itself, doesn’t it?

  • 2022-05-23 at 4:54 pm
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    The justice system did not do justice. It did the bidding of the leftist establishment. The fact that no Loudoun County judge would hear the case, the fact that the commonwealth attorney selected is a leftist progressive proves that we citizens of Loudoun County need to focus on removing every Democrat legislator and Commonwealth attorney. Next year it will be time to remove the Board of Supervisors and all the School Board members.

  • 2022-05-23 at 5:03 pm
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    Chin up, Loudoun, we’ve been sucker punched from somewhere in the back, and our children are paying the price – but – they woke a sleeping giant…and parents are voting like their children’s lives depend on it…because they do. Suicide, depression, anxiety, all spiking – but we’ve woken up…we’ll pull ourselves back out of this hole…courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue.

    Be encouraged to do you own homework, because an agenda is out there – and if you don’t vote responsibly…as the old adage applies: “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.” Local. elections. matter. If we didn’t truly realize this in the past, we certainly understand it now.

  • 2022-05-23 at 5:41 pm
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    The anti-American Trumpy wingnuts of the GOP thought they’d locked onto a great issue to keep their grievance pity party going. Glad to see some adults came into the room and told them to knock it off.

    As a general rule, when a group of people come at you with a list of books you can’t read, it’s probably a best practice not to let them run the education system.

    • 2022-05-23 at 9:55 pm
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      Ideology, let’s deal with facts here. First, the results of these Leftist “adults” has been failing scores for a decade and widening achievement gaps. Kind of like Biden destroying the economy and supercharging inflation, we need such incompetent “adults” about as much as we need a hole in our head. Second, every political group restricts certain books from kids. Every group. Your last argument is simply gibberish nonsense.

    • 2022-05-24 at 8:51 am
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      “FactsNotIdeology” — if you’re going to put “Facts” in your name, please get them right. Loudoun parents don’t have a “list of books you can’t read.” What we DO have is a list of graphically-sexual books that we don’t want our tax dollars purchasing and placing on classroom shelves. Parents are free to buy those books for their kids if they want. They can check them out of the public libraries. But there is no reason to have them on classroom shelves… unless, of course, you’re trying to normalize certain sexual behavior to children at a very young age.

      • 2022-05-24 at 5:09 pm
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        So here’s the thing Mom. You don’t have any more right to decide what goes on the classroom shelves of our public schools than any other tax paying resident of the County. Loudoun Country’s public schools don’t belong exclusively to the parents and the children who attend them- Loudoun’s public schools belong to all of us.

        You don’t want your tax money going towards things you find morally objectionable?

        Well, you ain’t a special snowflake….welcome to the club, it’s kinda big.

        • 2022-05-25 at 8:04 pm
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          Actually, the parents DO have a right to decide. If it is on the shelf, the parents have a right to say that their children cannot read it. Think of it as the “restricted section” at Hogwarts… only in this case instead of just being of a certain age, there are some books in there that also require a parent’s or guardian’s permission to take it off the shelf, never mind read it. You see, the parents are the direct consumers of the product. If they find the content objectionable, they have every right to speak up.

          • 2022-05-28 at 10:45 am
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            Kronos, you missed my point.

            If a parent doesn’t want their special snowflake reading a certain book they can certainly restrict them from doing so. Parents have every right to complain about and help determine curriculum in the public schools their children attend, or not….. just like the rest of us.

            The public schools belong to all of us- being a parent with a kid in the system doesn’t mean you have more say in what’s taught than anyone else and most of these SOS folks haven’t grasped this basic reality.

            I get it- parenting is hard and it’s all too easy to confuse one’s rights and one’s responsibilities.

          • 2022-05-31 at 2:51 pm
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            No, AFF, I entirely got your point. You want to force parents to accept the monopoly that is the public school system and whatever curriculum you and your fellow leftists decide for them. Being a parent of a child in the school system… meaning you are the direct consumer of the product or service… gives you much more of a say.

          • 2022-06-01 at 2:08 pm
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            virginia_sgp -[/applause] Keep up the good work – we need knowledgeable people bringing truth into the light, and willing to stand up against the bullying tactics of people in comment sections. Kudos/props as well to Kronos, Matthew, and Fairmont! It’s a relief to see some people being HONEST, truthful, and thorough, even with the vitriolic environment.

  • 2022-05-24 at 9:53 am
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    No more social activists on LCSB. Just those who want to TEACH our children the skill sets NEEDED to succeed in the real world — reading, writing, math, civics, science. I am not sending my kids to public school so it can be one big social activist club.

    I want children to feel consequences when they fail a test, or don’t do their homework. Not a pat on the back and a do-over, then another do-over, then another until the school gives this a “pass.” That is not how the world works.

    I don’t want our education standards dumbed-down in the name of equity. That is a smack in the face to all persons of color, where liberals believe they are just too slow and stupid yet spin it as if they are doing it to ensure all students are on equal level. That is not how the world works.

    If we just want a generation of lazy, dumbed-down, and entitled society, then by all means vote democrats. But let me ask you this…democrats have largely controlled public education in this country for decades. Yet, everyone in this country can see how bad our public education system is. How badly we rank in the world. Yet, no changes. Just status quo and more nonsense being thrown on the system by the libs. The system is broke. We need fundamental changes to our public education.

  • 2022-05-24 at 11:20 am
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    Once school was about education, reading, writing, arithmetic, and history (granted in my day partial history). Now like what appears to be everything in the US rightwing and leftwing politics have intruded their too often nasty and ugly heads into the education of even our kids.

    Adults should be ashamed of themselves, school is about learning, math, science, and history based upon facts no manifestos from any “side.” Period.

    I’d link to see School Boards discuss issues such as ensuring our future generations are well prepared to deal with this and the next century in an ever-changing, dangerous and uncertain world.

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