Parents suing Loudon County Public Schools say the district’s policies violate their students’ right to free speech and equal treatment. In court documents, the school district said such allegations were unfounded.
A federal judge heard oral arguments Wednesday morning in the case. At issue is whether the Virginia school district created a discriminatory “bias reporting system” based on its anti-racism plan, the creation of a student equity ambassador program, and other efforts. Parents say school policies have chilled student discourse.
In June 2020, Loudoun County Public Schools unveiled an “Action Plan to Address Systemic Racism” which included the Equity Ambassador program and encouraged students to report incidents of bias to teachers and supervisors. administrators through a form, according to a court document filed on behalf of the parents.
“Loudoun County parents are standing up for their children’s free speech rights after Loudoun County Public Schools enforced a discriminatory and unconstitutional bias reporting system,” said Emily Rae, senior attorney for the Liberty Justice Center, at Chalkboard News.
The Liberty Justice Center is representing parents and their children in the lawsuit against the school district.
“The LCPS not only regulated what students could and could not say, but it imposed controversial political views on its students while aiming to punish those who disagreed,” Rae continued. “It’s extreme and divisive. These headteachers need to be held accountable and the families of Loudoun County deserve better.
The school district declined to comment on ongoing litigation, but argued in court papers that the school lacked a bias system and stopped using a bias incident reporting form in 2021. .
The school also argued that even if there was a bias system, students and parents would not have standing because “the school board has never taken any action — let alone unconstitutional action.” – against complainants or any other student through a “bias system”.
The school district also argued that the students could not demonstrate from the evidence that a system of bias existed or currently exists within the school system.
The parents suing the school district are Patti Hidalgo Menders and Scott Mineo. Both reside in Loudon County and had children in high school in 2021, according to court documents.
Many school districts across the country have adopted equity policies in recent years, with departments dedicated to closing achievement gaps and discipline disparities, but the guidelines have also been criticized by opponents who say the language is divisive in states like Georgia where the state’s teacher education commission has said it will no longer use words like “equity” in favor of words that promote equity.