On Tuesday, a judge in Loudoun, Virginia ruled in favor of a group of parents in a case against a school board member, granting a motion to allow the political action group Fight for Schools to join the parents as plaintiffs, and ruling in favor of another motion to appoint a special prosecutor in the case due to a conflict of interest.
In detail: A group of Loudoun parents, who are seeking to remove school board member Beth Barts, received a favorable ruling on Tuesday when Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Jeanette A. Irby agreed to allow the group Fight for Schools to join as plaintiffs, and granted a motion to remove the presiding prosecutor and appoint a special prosecutor.
“Parents had been wanting a seat at the table for really over a year and a half in ensuring accountability with their school board, elected officials, and I think we got that today,” stated executive director of Fight for Schools Ian Prior.
“We were allowed to intervene and we’ve also wanted a fair process, so that we could be assured that however this shakes out at the end, we can be confident in the result that the system was fair, that justice was served,” he continued. “I think the judge made it clear appointing a special prosecutor is the best way to do that and we’re very happy with the results.”
How we got here: In March of 2021, Barts reportedly posted on Facebook about her concern ” that this CRT ‘movement’ for lack of a better word is gaining support.”
“CRT” refers to critical race theory.
After Barts’ Facebook post in March, another member of the group referred to a call for volunteers to “infiltrate” and “shut down their websites,” referring to the “CRT ‘movement'” Barts had expressed concern about in her original post.
In an ensuing investigation, Barts told the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department that the school board does not support critical race theory, and that “[s]he went on the site and asked for advocacy to share that [the school system] is not supporting critical race theory.”
When the sheriff’s department declined to press charges, a group of parents moved forward with a petition to remove Barts from office, eventually garnering 1,860 signatures.
In Virginia, after petitioners get the requisite number of signatures, the case appears before a judge, who must decide whether the circumstances warrant removing the official from office.
For Barts, that meant her case would be argued by Loudoun county’s top prosecutor Buta Biberaj.
However, Biberaj was reportedly also a member of the Facebook group involving Barts, which led to the initial investigation.
When Biberaj declined to recuse herself from the case, despite the apparent conflict of interest, lawyers for the parents requested that the court intervene to remove her and appoint a special prosecutor for the case.
That is exactly what Judge Irby did on Tuesday, adding that she would need about a week to find the special prosecutor to replace Biberaj.
“She based her decision on the appearance and perception of the petitioners and I’m fine with her decision,” Biberaj told the Loudoun Times-Mirror.
Worth noting: Britannica Encyclopedia explains critical race theory as “based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of colour.”
Fight for Schools, the political action group added as plaintiffs in the case against Barts, wrote on their website that “[c]ritical race theory holds that American institutions, language, culture, meritocracy, and liberal system of government are systemically racist and must be fundamentally altered.”
In arguing against teaching critical race theory in schools, Fight for Schools also included this message on their website: “Simply put, our schools are teaching children to judge people NOT by the content of their character, but by the color of their skin.”
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