Half of Loudoun School Board Candidates Join in Moms for Liberty Forum

Three of the six candidates running for the School Board special elections in the Broad Run and Leesburg districts shared their platforms Wednesday night during a forum hosted by Moms for Liberty Loudoun.

The forum included incumbent School Board member Andrew Hoyler (Broad Run), Broad Run District candidate Tiffany Polifko and Leesburg District candidate Michael Rivera.

Leesburg candidates Erika Ogedegbe and Lauren Shernoff and Broad Run candidate Nick Gothard did not take part. Gothard had called on the other candidates to drop out of the forum in advance, charging the national conservative group has championed hate against the LGBTQ community.

During the forum, Hoyler, who was appointed to the Board last October after Leslee King died, said he still had a lot more work to do on the board and that 11 months wasn’t enough time.  He emphasized that the process to change a policy takes months and can’t be changed in a single board meeting. 

Polifko said being a parent with children in Loudoun County Public Schools allows her to see what is going on from a parent’s perspective. Coupled with her professional experience with behavioral analysis and special education, she said she has what it takes to sit on the board and lend her expertise in those areas and bring about change.

Rivera, a father of two, said he never imagined he’d be in politics but decided to run because he felt parents’ rights were being attacked. “The bond between a mother and father and their child is something that nobody should ever get in between,” Rivera said. He said the schools need to focus more on academic instruction and remove identity politics from schools. 

Polifko and Rivera both said the school budget is inflated.

“This year when the budget went up for review, the budget went up and enrollment went down,” Rivera said, suggesting taxpayers are being misled about the budget.

Hoyler said there are many issues that need to be addressed in terms of the capital improvement plan and capital asset preservation program, which he said needs to be increased because of the rising costs of construction and repairs. He pointed to the single bid the school system got to build a new middle school, in which the bidder offered a price of 25% over budget. Hoyler pointed out he tried to cut a number of things from the budget, including director or supervisor positions, but failed those motions failed by one vote. 

“Until we can get a majority who won’t just simply agree with something in the budget because that is what staff wants in the budget, we aren’t going to see change,” Hoyler said.

He also differed from Polifko and Rivera on parents’ and schools’ role in raising children. He said for the majority of students he agreed, with their hand-off approach but said there are kids who don’t have parents at home to teach them life skills. 

“There are small minorities who are truly affected by a lack of strong parenthood in their household for whatever reason. We also need to look out for the kids who otherwise would slip out through the cracks,” he said. “But saying a blanket statement that no the school shouldn’t be teaching any life lessons, that’s not something I agree with.”

“I can’t fathom why, when we have kids that are not reading on grade level, when we have kids with IEP’s that are getting their service capped because the school system can’t provide the resources or the teachers to manage those caseloads,” Polifko said. “Why are we focusing on teaching them about identity and implicit bias? We need to address the learning loss and focus on what needs to happen when our kids go to school which is that our schools exist to educate and it’s the parent’s responsibility to instill morality and values in their children.”

All three opposed collective bargaining.

Hoyler said as a pilot he’s seen the pro’s and con’s of unions and said he has listened with an open mind to the proposals from the Loudoun Education Association but has 19 issues with the proposal and said there are other ways to represent teachers. He said that he believes LEA has valuable perspective it can bring to the School Board because they represent roughly 40% of the teacher staff group. He said he has tried to bring LEA and Human Resources together because he believes teachers feedback should be included in policy.

Chapter Chair and Co-Founder of Moms for Liberty Loudoun Cheryl Onderchain said all six School Board candidates were invited to the forum, and that Shernoff said she couldn’t make it and Ogedegbe and Gothard did not respond.

Gothard said he did not want to lend legitimacy to the organization.

“Moms for Liberty on the national level has advocated extremely against our LGBTQ community, from perpetuating harmful stereotypes to advocating for discrimination and even segregating LGBTQ children and children with disabilities from other students. I am not spending my time legitimizing an organization that wants to divide our community and perpetuate hate against people we need to serve,” Gothard said. “So instead, I’m spending time in our community talking to students, teachers and families about real issues like literacy, school infrastructure, and STEM programs. We deserve an effective and driven leader that isn’t trying to hear out some of the most extreme ideologies and that will bring folks together and drive consensus on issues that matter. I’m disappointed that both my opponents chose to spend time at that forum rather than advocating for real issues.”

“We are a nonpartisan organization. We just want to educate voters. We’ve been the epicenter of so much over the last year and even though it’s a special election and even though these seats are for only one year, it’s still important to hear what these candidates have to say,” Onderchain said.

An email request for comment to Ogedegbe and Shernoff was not immediately returned. 

School Board races are nonpartisan. Gothard and Ogedegbe have been endorsed by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee. Polifko and Rivera have been endorsed by the Loudoun County Republican Committee.

10 thoughts on “Half of Loudoun School Board Candidates Join in Moms for Liberty Forum

  • 2022-09-22 at 2:42 pm
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    Keep Gothard away from children, another no show is an admin with ties to the status quo and the other says the school board has done nothing wrong. Endorsements are not what they used to be.
    Polifko and Rivera are beckoning candles with skin in the game. Vote for the children and keep the groomers and go along’s to get along away from our 1.6-billion-dollar school budget.

  • 2022-09-22 at 3:08 pm
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    If truth be told, I have much more respect for Nick Gothard for not attending. Shame on Andrew Hoyler. But I can’t say I’m surprised. He voted against an LGBTQ+ History Month proclamation. That’s right. An openly-gay board member had the audacity to vote No. He showed zilch appreciation for the LGBTQ+ pioneers who went before him. I wouldn’t vote for him for dog catcher.

  • 2022-09-22 at 3:53 pm
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    Typical and expected response from the likes of Gothard and Ogedegbe, both of whom believe that our school system should be an indoctrination vehicle, not an educational one. To be blunt their inability to speak to those with other opinions is not a virtue but rather an act of cowardice.

  • 2022-09-22 at 4:26 pm
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    I think most Loudoun County parents and grandparents would agree that the current school board is far too agenda driven and has worked hard to marginalize input from them. It’s regrettable that half the candidates, many voters see as aligning with that agenda, chose not to take part in this important conversation. It makes eliminating them from consideration far easier.

  • 2022-09-22 at 5:10 pm
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    We need to vote for Tiffany Polifko and Michael Rivera, simple as that. Hoyler needs to drop out so that all pro-parents can consolidate and vote for Polifko.

  • 2022-09-22 at 7:22 pm
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    This Gothard guy should be defeated based on his arrogant comments. When I ran for the Board of Supervisors in 2011, Cornerstone Chapel — not exactly a bastion of liberals — held a candidates debate for folks running in the Leesburg and Catoctin Districts and Sheriff. My Democrat opponent, Kelly Burk, showed, as did Dave Butler, another Democrat, who was challenging Randy Minchew. And, I am unaware of Republican candidates ducking NAACP sponsored debates, even though many of them are ambushes against GOP candidates. How can someone represent the Broad Run community if he feels a group of parents with conservative views is a hate group? When you serve in elected office, you represent EVERYONE, even folks who oppose you or your points of view.

  • 2022-09-22 at 10:11 pm
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    Candidates have a hot mic to say whatever they want. If they’re cut off they can cry foul same if the are attacked. However to not show up without a valid reason of prior commitments or emergencies screams pathetically afraid. I would not vote for such a person. Go into the den of the Lion and you gain respect.

  • 2022-09-23 at 9:54 am
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    A non-partisan organization? Are you kidding me? I guess some people expect other people to believe just about anything…

    • 2022-09-23 at 3:36 pm
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      You know, it is funny that the Marxists are so scared of a debate. Maybe they recognize their inability to think critically. I have no need to debate education reformers who understand what a disaster LCPS is. I want to debate those who spew talking points like “CRT is not in LCPS” or “our school board is not Marxist” or “our school board spends money wisely” or “virtual learning will be/was great”. When you debate someone, they cannot run and hide. But I guess that is why Ideology here, along with Gothard and the indigenous African lady running for the Leesburg seat, wouldn’t show up

  • 2022-09-23 at 3:03 pm
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    Candidates are not required to nor should they appear before every agenda-driven group that operates in the area they represent or hope to represent. Appearance at that sort of gathering implies an endorsement. C’mon Mr. Reid, you must realize that even as you try to argue something else…

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