Saturday, July 2, 2022

VA: Loudoun Schools Hit With Million Dollar Culture Wars Lawsuit

Well, here we go. Far-right CRT activists are upping their game, which in Virginia means suing the local school district for a cool $1.5 million, among other things. And they've got some high-powered MAGA backing to do it. The Loudoun County Schools, a very wealthy, very white district, is being dragged to court.

The lawsuit charges that the defendants, which include the district, administrators and school board members, have adopted policies and practices that are "intended to force or have the effect of forcing Plaintiffs into choosing between their fundamental right to direct the education, moral instruction, and upbringing of their children, and their right to free public elementary and secondary education."

The specific items they list include requiring schools and teachers to secretly facilitate gender ansition (sorry--that's "transition"), providing psychological treatment or counseling without parental knowledge or consent, changing names or pronouns without parental knowledge or consent, soliciting student information about long list of attitudes and habits, intentionally doing "social and emotional learning stuff" in order to affect "a child's behavior, emotional or attitudinal characteristics" re: race or gender without parental knowledge or approval, using racial "balancing," and failing to provide a safe or orderly environment.

The list has the standard quality of feeling like a subtweet that is aimed at specific issues (I mean, do you have any idea how many times I adopted a child's preferred nickname in class without looping in the parents), but Loudoun County Schools come with plenty of subtext pre-loaded because they have been one of the Ground Zeros for the mask/CRT/LGBTQ flaps all collected under the parental rights protests.

Those were accelerated when the district decided to defy Governor Youngkin's order to end school mask mandates. Loudoun is also the district of the infamous bathroom assault, where a boy wearing a skirt sexually assaulted a female student. The two had met in bathrooms for sex before, but this time she wanted to talk and instead became the object of an ugly partner rape. But her father was arrested for attacking another parent at a board meeting, and the right wing media focused on the boy wearing a skirt to sell the rankest kind of fantasy--that a trans student had used a district trans policy to go into a girls bathroom and sexually assault someone. That just fueled more anger over  policy 8040 regarding trans students. This is also the district that fired and was forced to reinstate the phys ed teacher who refused to use preferred pronouns. All of this, plus the usual ginned-up "CRT" panic, underlies the lawsuit, which has been filed on behalf of plaintiffs who are mostly veterans of Loudoun conflicts. Oh, and board member recalls.

Clint Thomas. His daughter was suspended for refusing to wear a mask in class, and Thomas then started appearing on the Fox News circuit. He complained that the district was suspending National Honor Society students, community volunteers, and other student leaders "for pushing back against 'woke' educators defying the governor's order." 

Abbie Platt. Another anti-mask mom on the Fox circuit.  She characterized the school's actions as "psychological warfare" and complained that her daughter and twenty other students had been "segregated" by being stuck in the auditorium. Her son, she said, has a medical excuse that the school wouldn't honor.

Erin Dunbar. Wrote a letter to the editor decrying "tyrannical overreach."

Amy Jahr. Organized a fundraiser to sue the district over its nonrenewal of a teacher's contract after she complained of sexual touching by students. (Welcome to tenureless teaching.) Jahr also turned up on Ingraham Angle to talk about one of the board meetings that became a circus with "CRT" protesters (including Senator Dick Black). 

Michelle Mege. Mege has been a leading figure in the attempt to bury Loudoun Schools under Freedom of Information  Act requests. She calls herself a "core volunteer" for Fight for Schools, one of the many, many groups that have sprung up. Mege made news when the district told her it would cost $36K to fill her requests, which is probably related to the number--95, at the rate of about three a week.

Elicia Brand. The lawyer representing the father of the victim of the bathroom assault.

Elizabeth Perrin. Showed up on Fox to protest a "pornographic" book as well as "Critical Race Theory" At a board meeting, she said "It is not political, it is parentals, and I absolutely refuse to co-parent with LCPS."

Megan Rafalski. With her husband and one other parent, sued the district when it tried to get meetings back under control by tightening rules on who could speak. 

You get the picture. Most of the plaintiffs have plenty of experience battling the district on the usual constellation of grievances.

And they have found (or been found by) the perfect law firms for the job. The Binnall Law Group is a "boutique" litigation firm, with some practice in Title IX law. But the other firm...

The other firm is America First Legal, and golly bob, howdy, but they're a crew.

AFL was established in February of 2021 by former senior White House advisor Stephen Miller and counselor to the Attorney General Gene Hamilton. They were set up to fight Democrat policies in the courts. Their board includes Mark Meadows, former acting AG General Matt Whitaker, and former director of the Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought. They were announced with great joy and fanfare on the right (the American Spectator called them "a light in the darkness"). Trump himself gave them an endorsement. The Conservative Partnership Institute (a Jim Demint joint that's part of the State Policy Network) also takes credit for helping create AFL.

Their stated mission is, in part,

We founded America First Legal to save our country from this coordinated campaign. With your support, we will oppose the radical left’s anti-jobs, anti-freedom, anti-faith, anti-borders, anti-police, and anti-American crusade.

The extreme social gender experiments being forced onto small children are nothing short of government-directed child abuse and child sexual exploitation

These are mafia tactics from Loudoun schools, being used to sexualize and indoctrinate children as young as five, all in the name of forcing radical gender ideology onto captive minors. If this was happening outside the context of a school, the adults engineering and sanctioning this madness would be under criminal investigation,

This is the moment when America’s patriotic parents say: ‘Enough. It ends here. We draw the line.’ We are proudly in court, on their behalf, to vindicate the most sacred rights of parents and families against astonishing corruption, abuse, and misconduct. And we are just getting started.

And indeed the AFL has a new Center for Legal Equality that is presumably going to focus on these sorts of cases.

Meanwhile, in this case at hand, the plaintiffs list a whole bunch of specific claims, though they're not very specific. Things like "failing to provide a physically safe and secure learning environment" and "hiding curriculum materials from parents." There are plenty of complaints about the 8040 policy, not letting parents speak at board meetings, and there's even a reference to Mege's FOIA request bill. But mostly there's the now-standard blanket set of complaints about All The Various Woke Stuff:

With intentional disregard for their legal duties and obligations to Plaintiffs and other parents, Defendants have used and are using taxpayer money to advance a “woke” agenda of racial and gender indoctrination, disconnected from any legitimate academic purpose. In the name of “social justice,” Defendants are knowingly, intentionally, systemically, and unlawfully violating Plaintiffs’ rights, and the rights of all other Loudoun County Public school parents.

There are appendices listing the 8040 policy and its statements about expected equal treatment of LGBTQ+ students, so I guess part of the assertion here is that LGBTQ+ student rights automatically infringe on the rights of straight students?

What do the plaintiffs want? There are eight pieces of relief that they seek:

1) A declaration that they're right, and also they'd like the court to make the district throw out the 8040 policy.

2) Tell the district to knock it off and stop "depriving" the plaintiffs of their "constitutional and legal rights."

3) Appoint a special state overseer to ride herd on the district.

4) Make the district pay tuition to send the plaintiff's children to some less naughty school.

5) A judgement "jointly and severally" of "not less than $1,500,00" in damages.

6) With interest. (Really)

7) All of plaintiffs' costs.

8) Anything else the court wants to throw in.

A reminder that the school district is itself a defendant, so any money awards will be paid by taxpayers. 

The anti crowd has tried to hit this district with every cooling, scary measure it can think of, and they have remained unbowed, so here we are. Stay tuned to see how this case shakes out. Also, watch for more such suits, particularly in places like Florida where the Don't Say Gay law lets anybody sue over anything that makes them sad. We know where they can call for a lawyer to take the case.

In the meantime, in other news, Loudoun schools are "seeing large uptick in teacher resignations, openings 'through the roof'" for some reason. They had to offer signing bonuses to get teachers to sign up for summer school, and they still didn't get all they needed. The story does hit at a novel wrinkle--the district is too expensive for most teachers to live there on a teacher's salary, so most commute, and now that gas prices are up there, nobody's in a hurry to do that, either. 

Stay tuned.


  1. I'm a teacher in Loudoun County. These people are exhausting grifters who really only have two goals: keep the rubes ginned up for the midterms and divert money from public schools to their private Christian programs. Your summary is tremendous. One additional important piece of clarifying information: Loudoun County was one of the last bastions of Massive Resistance post-Brown v. Board. The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know.

  2. From a Loudoun County parent: I appreciate the teachers and administrators that teach my children in public school. Thank you for all you do and all you put up with.

    1. Too bad, the Loudoun County parent posted as anonymous. I wonder if that parent is terrified by the forces at work in VA to dismantle schools and tie the hands of teachers in their task to offer a quality education that includes understanding each child's needs and interests.