Following multiple incidents of rowdiness and disruption in their assemblies, the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) board has taken new steps to reaffirm decency and respect in their school meetings.
The disastrous June 22nd meeting – where conversation and debate descended into anarchy – emphasized the need for the school board to reform its regulations regarding meeting attendance and participation. With their deck of cards on full display, it is now time to ask: What has LCPS done, what does it mean, and what are its consequences?
The Loudoun County school board has had a rocky past. Earlier this year, hundreds of protestors appeared at school board meetings to contest the passing of various policies for the LCPS School District. Conferences were overshadowed by suspensions and arrests, bringing national attention to the tiny county in Northern Virginia. For the majority of protests, the focus of attention was Policy 8040: an LCPS rule stipulating teachers to identify students according to their conforming gender identity. The bill also motivates schools to construct/expand all-gender or single person bathrooms. As of now, Virginia law requires all Virginian school districts to pass new policies accomodating and protecting transgender students.
The LCPS school board’s new meeting regulations aim to bar “out-of-town agitators” from participating in and potentially disrupting assemblies. With these new rules, only residents of Loudoun County, business owners operating in Loudoun County, LCPS students, parents of LCPS students, and LCPS staff may attend in school meetings. To prove their satisfaction of one of these conditions, citizens must provide at least one of six means of identification: a valid Loudoun County license, a utility bill dated to 2021 listing the resident’s name and address, a mortgage/rental lease agreement providing the resident’s name and address (residential or business), LCPS employee or student identification, an LCPS email addressed to a parent of an enrolled LCPS student, and/or a student report card/progress report. Residents are permitted to register for attendance online or at the door (prior to the last five minutes before the start of the meeting).
Pushback, expectedly, has come swiftly and with vengeance. Groups of parents have resorted to their own congregations to rally against the agenda of the LCPS school board. Conservative blogger and podcaster Matt Walsh led the charge, going as far as to rent a home in Loudoun County for a chance to speak at the meeting. Mr. Walsh has been a persistent critic of the school board, but the recent change in policy has only further inflamed his audience – as well as his determination, it seems -. His comments went viral on twitter, especially among conservative circles. “…these schools get federal funding, so this is the concern of all taxpayers. We should all be able to have a say for that reason alone,” said Walsh on the changes.
Only time will tell whether these new rules will allow LCPS school meetings to return to normalcy once more.