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Loudoun County resident’s First Amendment case may benefit free-speech group’s suit against Trump

Lansdowne resident Brian Davison says freedom of speech and expression is in danger in Loudoun County. Times-Mirror Photo
After months of a pending verdict in a case that raised consequential questions about the constitutional limitations on politicians' social media accounts, a federal court ruled last week that Loudoun County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) violated Lansdowne resident Brian Davison’s right to free speech by temporarily banning him from her Facebook page.

From a circuit court in Richmond to a federal district court in Alexandria, Davison, a software engineer and father of two, has won and lost battles in courtrooms in his pursuit of defending the First Amendment and accessing public records.

But the latest outcome of Davison’s suit is one likely to affect politicians around the country, and maybe all the way up to the White House.

What started off as a pro se free speech suit by Davison against the county’s chairwoman and Board of Supervisors could now play a key role in a recent lawsuit against President Donald Trump brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University alleging the president suppressed dissent by blocking critics from his Twitter account.

“More and more elected officials are turning to online tools to conduct policy, to engage their constituencies, to advance their political agendas. But they’re also using the tools of censorship in those online platforms, and they’ve been doing so without an honest conversation about what the First Amendment has to say about that censorship,” Alex Abdo, senior staff attorney at the Knight institute, said. “We wanted to start that conversation, and the case in Loudoun County has provided an excellent roadmap for how to think about governmental use of social media in the digital age.”

Both Davison and the institute’s lawsuits grapple with what is becoming a growing trend of politicians barring critics from their social media pages.

The issue has created a legal gray area around public forums in the digital age and people’s web protections under the First Amendment.

Do the social media accounts of politicians create a public forum protected by the First Amendment when they open up their pages to constituents? And if an elected official blocks or deletes critical comments of a user in that forum, does it violate their rights under the First Amendment?

According to U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris’ July 25 ruling, yes, it does.

“By prohibiting Plaintiff from participating in her online forum because [Randall] took offense at his claim that her colleagues in the County government had acted unethically, Defendant committed a cardinal sin under the First Amendment,” Cacheris stated in a 44-page ruling.

Although Cacheris admitted the consequences of Randall’s overnight ban of Davison from her page were “fairly minor,” he said the court could not treat a First Amendment violation “in this vital, developing forum differently than it would elsewhere simply because technology has made it easier to find alternative channels through which to disseminate one’s message.”

Loudoun officials say the county is considering appealing Cacheris’ ruling.

Meanwhile, the Knight First Amendment Institute’s suit against Trump and his associates argues the president’s @realDonaldTrump Twitter account is a public forum protected under the First Amendment that he uses as a “key channel for official communication” to make formal announcements and defend the administration’s positions.

The institute alleges Trump’s “view-point based blocking” of the seven users from his @realDonaldTrump account “infringes the Individual Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights” and “imposes an unconstitutional restriction on their participation in a designated public forum.”

A murky outcome

But as lawyers from the First Amendment Institute point to Judge Cacheris’ ruling to help their case against the president, other legal experts say litigating the institute's case and similar suits going forward will be difficult.

A separate ruling – just three days after Cacheris' – on a free speech suit Davison brought against members of the Loudoun County School Board from a different judge in the same federal court is already showing signs of the legal conundrum.

In a 20-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga said it was unclear whether Davison’s First Amendment was violated by several members of the School Board after they removed his critical posts on their Facebook pages.

“Here, the law is less than settled as to whether the plaintiff had a right to post on a Facebook page maintained by a public official and that this right was violated when those postings were removed or when plaintiff was prevented from posting his comments,” Trenga said.

Trenga noted it was “not clear as a legal matter” whether the Facebook pages in question were limited or public forums.

“These [cases] are relatively new and every court could come up with a different decision,” said Clay Hansen, executive director of the Charlottesville-based Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. “... I think until we have some conflicting rulings where we have a split among courts that is at the federal circuit level and we can see this being resolved by a supreme court – until we get to that stage – we won’t have any clear sense of how any particular court will handle it.”

Hansen said the Trump case will likely be harder to litigate because the president uses both the @realDonaldTrump handle -- an account he created before assuming office -- as well as the official @POTUS account that has been handed off from one administration to the next.

In the case against Randall, the chairwoman tried to argue her “Chair Phyllis J. Randall” Facebook account was a personal page, but Cacheris pointed out that Randall created the page the day before she assumed public office with the help of her chief of staff. He also noted she created the account for the purpose of addressing her constituents and asked them to post on the page in question, thus, the account was “born out of” and “inextricably linked” to the fact of Randall's public office.

Following Trenga’s decision, County Attorney Leo Rogers said an appellate court would need to clarify “how and when social media constitute public forums.”

Eric Goldman, a California-based law professor at Santa Clara University who heads a blog that has closely followed Davison’s suits, thinks although Cacheris’ ruling will be “persuasive evidence” in the First Amendment Institute’s case, but the contrasting set of facts in the Randall and Trump cases could be problematic in litigating a case against the president and similar ones in the future.

“I think this ruling gives the plaintiffs additional support for their legal arguments. So, I'm sure they'll be citing it and I'm sure that the judge will be interested in it,” Goldman said. “Whether or not the facts are extrapolatable enough is I think going to be a point of contention. And so, the defense arguments will be this is different and here's all the reasons why: Trump is in a different position than the supervisor in this case, or the implications of blocking somebody on Facebook are different than the implications of blocking someone on Twitter.”

Goldman said the judge in the Trump case will also need to consider, from a philosophical perspective, the implications a favorable ruling could have on the nation.

“I think that any judge is going to have to think very carefully about what it means to say that the president violated the Constitution,” Goldman said. “ ... Judges are going to see in their career dozens of burglaries, but they're probably not all going to have one case where they rule on the top elected official in our country having violated our foundational principles.”

The cost of activism

In addition to Davison’s two suits against the county's Board of Supervisors and School Board, in a separate suit he has challenged Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman (R). All of the suits accuse the defendants of either blocking him from their Facebook pages or deleting critical comments he posted.

In March, Judge Cacheris ruled that Plowman did not violate Davison’s First Amendment right by deleting the Lansdowne resident’s Facebook posts.

However, Davison is in the process of appealing Cacheris’ March decision and says he plans to also appeal Trenga’s ruling in his suit against the School Board.

Davison is now in the midst of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Act suit against state Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (R) in Henrico County.

He says a victory in a Richmond Circuit Court last year in his request for the Virginia Department of Education to release test score data showing student growth instilled a sense of confidence in him to pursue his First Amendment cases.

But his legal pursuits have not come without a cost. Davison says the repercussions of the suits will follow him for the rest of his professional career.

“If I’m a politician or I’m an attorney, these cases help me,” Davison said. “In no way shape or form do these cases help me. When we have government clients, if they look my name up and see, ‘Oh wow there’s controversy around this person' – that can only hurt me. There can be no near-term advantages that I can see, only consequences.”

Still, he believes he's fighting for a fundamental American freedom.

“From my perspective, it was just, 'Hey, am I going to sit here and watch it and put up with it?’ And I finally just got tired and thought I could help,” Davison said of his lawsuits.


Related coverage:

-"Loudoun resident files civil rights suits against county officials over social media censorship"
-"Federal judge sides with Loudoun commonwealth’s attorney in First Amendment suit"
-"Loudoun County chairwoman, Lansdowne resident meet in federal court"
-"U.S. District judge rules Randall violated Lansdowne resident’s First Amendment right"
-"Federal court dismisses Lansdowne resident’s free speech suit against Loudoun County School Board"


Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @sydneykashiwagi.

Comments


finding joy in things not retribution & enjoyment in things other than pursuit of lawsuits = priceless


Equity, what exactly is your complaint:

1. LTM will report on a story of potential national significance despite it making Loudoun officials look bad

2. LTM will actually let me respond to my critics online unlike so many LCSB members and other Loudoun officials

or

3. LTM and I agree that govt should be open


Equity, better question is whether I should receive those royalties for the number of clicks these articles receive.  You can’t say this isn’t an entertaining forum.

But the focus should be on the corrupt politicians of Loudoun.  Hey, maybe they can start a TV series - Corrupt Politicians of Loudoun County.  The key actors could be:


Denier-in-Chief Wayde Byard

Censor-in-Chief Phyllis Randall

The Completely Corrupt One (Hornberger)

The Why-Won’t-the-Sheriff-Lock-Him-Up-For-Criticizing-Me Debbie Rose

The I-Report-Critical-Parents-to-Child-Protective-Services Tracy Stephens

The I-Have-No-Clue-About-The-Constitution-But-I-Am-A-Former-Teacher Jill Turgeon

and of course

I-Will-Protect-Every-Loudoun-Official-From-Corruption-Charges-Since-I-Myself-Am-Corrupt-Too Jim Plowman.


wondering - is ltm now sgp’s personal forum? better than trying to attract readers to a site of his own? should ltm receive royalties per line published?


LibertyGal, do you see how DavisB tries to change the subject?  His logic is this.  If some folks (who read the comments section of local papers) knew about 4 of 9 school board members voting on raises for their spouses, then why do the school board members need to actually disclose that fact before voting on those raises?  He doesn’t really care that failure to disclose is a violation of the law.

And if some of you know that Hornberger was the personal aide of a billionaire charter school magnate seeking to start charter schools in Loudoun County, then why does Hornberger actually need to disclose this?

Obviously, most people (who never read these comments sections) don’t know.  None of the papers have run a single story about the special prosecutor’s opinion saying there was violation of the conflict of interest law regarding spouses. Hornberger to this day won’t admit the conflict with his boss.

There is a reason we don’t leave it to newspapers to disclose conflicts of politicians.  We want to ensure disclosure by the conflicted politicians themselves.  Taking responsibility for one’s conflicts makes one more careful on such votes and often leads to recusal.  The Virginia Coalition for Open Government compiles a list of stories on FOIA and conflicts within Virginia.  Since they aren’t reporters and only link to existing news stories, they have never posted a link to Hornberger’s conflict or the spousal conflicts within the school board.  We simply cannot trust newspapers to report on all scandals.  Some have friends who leak information and they don’t want to lose their moles.  Thus, the newspapers will self-censor to protect those leakers.  We clearly see that with Loudoun Now.

DavisB is perfectly happy with school board members (1) failing to disclose spousal conflicts in passing raises, (2) failing to disclose conflicts with billionaire charter school members, (3) banning individuals from commenting on their Facebook pages, (4) defrauding the federal gov’t regarding NCLB waivers, (5) violating FERPA by coercing students who fail the SOLs to retake the exam for the sole benefit of the school, and (6) banning parent critics who ask simple questions at PTA meetings where students are not present.  That’s what DavisB represents.  He/she is proud of those positions.  The question is how many other Loudoun citizens, and especially LEA union types, support such corruption simply to get largess doled out to themselves and their friends.  And how many people will say “we’ve had enough” of this corruption.


LibertyGal - the problem is that you do know about Hornberger now so why does Brian continue to say that he and the other SB members are hiding?  Brian continues his personal attack on them as well as anyone who criticizes him.  Again, I don’t think his issue concerns anything except his own need for recognition.  He already succeeded in elevating the conversation about freedom of speech and social medial.  His on-going quest has nothing to do with making any changes.


davisB,
With all due respect, not everyone knows everything there is to know about their own school board representatives let alone every thing about others on the board.
Had it not been for Mr. Davison perhaps many others, including myself, never would have realized who Mr. Hornberger’s full time employer was and there is a possible conflict of interest when it comes to charter schools. Besides, regardless of if the county’s legal department opinion on the matter, I think that sort of information could be helpful for voters in Ashburn who may not otherwise have know. It’s also helpful information the the rest of us to have in the event we believe decisions could possibly be made that some of us believe are not beneficial to the children, but rather politics as usual. This goes for all school board members and board of supervisors. It’s our duty as citizens to question government, if we do not do it I assure you they will naturally become prone to putting themselves first, this is especially true when an increase to a spouses salary is being voted on. Human nature almost forced us to do what is best for ourselves and our loved ones survival before anyone else’s.


Lowes and Eastern, thanks again for the support.

DavisB, you could not be more wrong again. You are clearly just a shill for the LEA union types who want more $$ and no accountability. Why don’t you specifically state whether you supported LCPS knowingly signing false assurances regarding SGPs on their NCLB waivers. You won’t because you appear to support that fraud.

And let’s get the facts straight. I didn’t know Hornberger was the personal aide to a billionaire charter school magnate. Neither did the LEA! My friend, who is much better in research than me, dug up this info. When I pressed Hornberger and his buddies who were also pushing charters to disclose everything (see Bill Fox), it was Fox who tried to downplylay it while Hornberger to this day won’t disclose those ties. He only states the innocuous “Mustard Seed Foundation”. But when it finally. Ame out, the LEA spokespersons (RDJ) went quiet for 2 days trying to decide if they should oppose a charter school implant or support Hornberger for always proposing huge teacher raises. They chose the latter. Hornberger posted on his FB page quotes from Judge Irby’s ridiculous ruling that he doesn’t even need to disclose charter school ties. But the people don’t agree with her or Hornberger. It’s a no-brainer that deception is an ethical violation.

As for the “attorneys”, you are talking about 2 people who knowingly put Byard on the stand to commit perjury. You are talking about an attorney who let Randall testify that she wouldn’t know me if she saw me one week after I spoke before the BOS with her presiding, calling my name, and being rather shocked at my remarks. You are talking about an attorney who investigated the LVHS scandal where teachers made serious charges with physical evidence and the attorney dismissed everything. These are some of the most unethical attorneys around and that makes you proud, right DavisB?

Your little game of see no evil, hear no evil is over. The public has had it and their attention has been caught. You may be able to rally the significant numbers of unethical teachers who are only concerned about getting raises at any cost to vote for these corrupt officials again, but the general public and teachers who have a conscience are against you.


Once again, V SGP is spot on. Please keep fighting and thank you for everything you do!


John - while I disagree with many decisions from the SB and the BOS, the members are elected.  The people who vote for them are aware of everything about them, from their day jobs to their families.  Brian accuses the SB members of hiding.  This is a weird position since Brian knows all about them and everyone else knows.  So, there is nothing being hid and his personal attacks are simply attempts to bully the SB members.  I think this is his way of trying to get revenge for being minimalized regarding his failed attempt to sell his teacher evaluation system.

If the school lawyers have no issue with these votes, why should I?  I am more concerned about Brian’s continued drain on local resources in his quest to get recognition.


davisB, what is your name?  You seem to be enjoying free anonymous speech that you criticize SGP for seeking to protect.  You also seem desperate to change the narrative.


DavisB- Do you agree that (if what Brian says is true) that Hornberger voting on charter school issues while working for someone who owns a charter school is a conflict of interest?
Also, do you think Hornberger, whose wife is a teacher, should be allowed to vote on teacher salaries? I just want to see where you stand. See, I would have no problem with Hornberger participating in the DISCUSSION of charter schools and teacher wages, but he should most certainly abstain from voting.


Brian - keep on keeping on brother!


Why isn’t Williams or LCSB members themselves defending why they violated the conflict of interest laws, NCLB waivers, and FERPA on here?  Amazingly we don’t hear a peep from them.


DavisB, what in the world are you talking about?  I wasn’t creating a teacher evaluation system.  Researchers (Bettebenner from Colorado created the SGP model) and data analytics firm (SAS is the biggest provider including to many states like Tenn, NC, Ohio, etc.) have already created those models.  Then, experts like the one we had testify in a Richmond Circuit Court (John Friedman of Brown U) have verified these models are consistent and are a key part of evaluating which teachers generate growth. 

Then, the US DoE VDOE decided that student grwoth was important and tied NCLB waivers to states/districts use of such growth models.  About 5 states chose not to use growth models (CA, MA, etc.).  They were required to comply with the original NCLB law which meant every single one of their schools was deemed “failing” and parents got access to 20% of the federal funding to transport their kids to public schools of their choice and/or tutoring.  LCPS would have had to do the same had they not signed the waiver.  The NCLB waiver required 2 main things: (1) give the SGPs to the teachers so they could better understand how their students were learning.  (2) By 2014, start using the SGPs as ~20% of teacher evaluations (not close to 100%).

I never created any models.  I never suggested I knew more than Bettebenner or SAS.  I simply wanted LCPS and VDOE to follow the agreements they signed up for (NCLB waiver).  But they didn’t.  They still took the funds and signed knowingly false assurances to the US DoE.  That’s fraud.

I understand you like to pin this on me as someone who thinks he has some great insight.  I don’t.  I simply wanted the federal rules followed and have read the research of Chetty, Friedman, Bettebenner and others.  I agree with their recommendations and those of the Gates MET study which served as the basis for those reforms.

Although you try to claim LCPS should not follow the “demands” of “Davison”, what you are really advocating is for LCPS to refuse to follow the guidance of the best educational experts and to openly violate the terms of their NCLB waivers.  I published on the internet the results of those student growth models (required by the NCLB waiver) which VDOE calculated.  The public never had this policy debate in Virginia precisely because no district did follow those guidelines so the public was clueless.


A U.S. District judge ruled “Randall violated Lansdowne resident’s First Amendment right”.  That is the essence of the problem.  It is illegal.  If SGP wants to question how and why things are being done at LCPS, and suggest improvements, it is his right. I also think the quality of education (and accountability) is far more important than baking brownies.  He definitely has a lot of supporters that lack the thick skin to take personal attacks dished out here let alone in the courtroom.  And other articles in the LTM discuss suicide and bullying.  I wonder where the kinds learn such behavior?


Thanks again for those who support free speech.  It might be of interest that an Indivisibly supporter from Arizona contacted me from Arizona because her Republican Congressman blocked her on his official FB page.  I was helping her proceed in possibly filing a suit.  This issue crosses political lines.  Rather ironic we are working together.

But here is DavisB’s sleight of hand.  I accused officials of corruption because it was true.  There are special prosecutor opinions confirming that fact which have never been reported on in any of these papers.  Loudoun Now has refused to even report on the Plowman case.

The school board’s tactic was to block all discussion of these topics.  When the special prosecutor ruled they had to disclose conflicts, LCSB members started doing that but they didn’t announce why they changed their practice (they were breaking the law).  And the papers didn’t report this change nor highlight the fact that LCSB members had refused my prior calls to follow the disclosure laws.  Thus, folks like you try to accuse me of “false corruption” charges when my accusations were spot on.

You can’t on the one hand imply I am making false accusations of corruption and then support the gag order on public discussion of that corruption.  Just state which of my charges are false.  A teacher told me about schools identifying all the students who fail the SOLs over the loudspeaker (FERPA violation).  The NCLB waiver violation is also indisputable (certainly the US Attorney and US DoE didn’t dispute it).  The conflict of interest is in a legal opinion.

You suggest school board officials should “fight back” when their corruption is exposed.  I completely disagree.  They should get right with the law (comply with the NCLB waiver they signed or disclose conflicts of interest) and show remorse for having chosen to break these laws to begin with.  The LEA supporters not only want speech curtailed (so nobody can hear me pointing out this corruption), they actually supported the LCSB violating the laws they don’t like.  Think about that.  I know many of you will complaint but it’s no different than some liberals supporting the failure to deport any illegal aliens when that’s not the law.

There are multiple issues here.  (1) The free speech on gov’t forums is now front and center.  (2) Govt corruption (knowingly violating laws such as NCLB, Disclosure, FERPA) is an important issue that hasn’t really been covered by the papers.  (2) And then there are policy issues like how we should distribute (see Dunning’s letter), promote, recruit and compensate our teachers to ensure our kids get the best education using the enormous budget that is provided.  We can’t get to the policy issues until we solve the first 2 issues.  But the LEA types need to understand that we will eventually get to discuss those issues publicly even though Supt Williams like to make autocratic decisions opposed by many parents and the majority of teachers (e.g. no more mid-terms) in mid-summer when nobody is watching.


Eastern Loudouner - I never said you were not entitled to reporting.  It was not Brian’s request for data that was disruptive.  It was his attempt to hijack every conversation and meeting.

If anyone remembers, Brian went a step further that request anonymous data.  He got data with personal information in it.  He promised that he could build an analysis that would tell good teachers from bad ones simply by SOL testing results.  Well, he has had the data for almost 2 years and has yet to deliver on his promise.

I think the lack of results is not because Brian is a lousy data analyst.  I think it is because there is no evidence that teacher valuation is the causation of SGP results.  SGP scores simply are not a good indicator of teacher worth. Brian yet to prove otherwise.


Please notice that I actually said he should not have been banned from the FB page.  But, Brian attacks me and falsely says I support the ban.  This is the kind of nonsense that we have come to expect from him.  It is not enough to even support the guy.  You cannot talk at all - only his voice is important. 

I do not think he or anyone should be prevented from posting on any social media.  I have said that from the beginning.  Why Brian sees my support of him as an adversarial position I do not know.  I do know that he brings on criticisms himself and that he is not a champion for anyone but himself.

Brian goes online and accuses public officials of corruption, misuse of public funds, and worst.  Then, he whines when those officials fight back.  It is like a bully who taunts a smaller kid for months until the smaller kid smacks him.  That bully should not expect anyone to feel sorry for him.

Brian started this with his overbearing assumption that only he could implement a teacher evaluation system that would fix all that is wrong in education.  When no one believed him, he took his fight to PTO meetings.  There, instead of letting the parents discuss fund raising, bake sales, and field days, he disruptively insisted that his agenda was more important than all the rest.  This is what got him removed from the schools and what started his personal vendetta against everyone in the schools and the county.  Instead of accepting responsibility for the consequences of his actions, he blamed everyone else.

So, no he should not have been banned from ranting on FB.  Yes, he is entitled to post all he wants.  But, before anyone votes him citizen of the year, keep in mind that he is responsible for the problem.


Holding politicians accountable? Say it’ ain’t so Joe!


Finally a positive outcome from VSGP’s rants: it might inadvertently help stop the drain-circling spiral the malevolently incompetent Trump administration has put our country in.


DavisB and Callme are demonstrating the consistent message of the LEA. If you want the public to get school accountability data or raise issues publicly, you will face retaliation. They approve of those tactics.  Let’s review the facts and the page

1. SCOTUS has held the answer to critical speech is more speech not less.

2. You cannot suppress others speech when you simply post. When multiple people attack one individual (as is here), the attacked deserves more chances to respond. But deserves is not a standard. Since I was not the admin of these forums, I cannot suppress anyone’s speech unlike Plowman, Randall, Rose, Hornberger, Maloney, Turgeon, Morse, Fox, Kuesters and others.

3. A vital fact in both my cases and the Trump case is it is perfectly legal for someone to close their ears and choose what they listen to. On Facebook, a private citizen blocks another (e.g. me) and you won’t see my posts. Same as on Twitter. Callme and DavisB could have done that but that slow not what they wanted. They wanted the admins (Randall, Rose, LTM) to block me so NOBODY could hear my speech. Other pols have done likewise with their critics.

4. DavisB, Callme and others simply don’t value free speech. They have never volunteered to defend anything. They just don’t get it. They ask “we are teachers, why don’t you do what we say like our students?” They don’t deserve free speech themselves but are afforded that right by others who are willing to defend it in the military and in court.

5. You will notice that Callme and the LEA henchmen continue to anonymously attack me with lies and inaccurate “facts”. Callme, THIS IS VIRTUAL SHOUTING. I do not about virtually. I sharply critique. If you don’t like it, stay out of the kitchen. But you seem pretty good at dishing it, just a little sensitive when on the receiving end.


How were you able to comment Dante_Callme?  I thought SGP eliminated that.


McHale, why do you imply I disrupted the learning process? The only accusations against me were that I asked controversial questions in PTA meetings, during back-to-school night presentations, and to the school board. Waiting for one’s turn, asking a question and waiting on an answer cannot be defined as disruptive. If anyone doesn’t understand that, look up the Tinker decision.

LCPS accused me of causing anxiety based on the criticism I lodged OFF school grounds. In other words, if you raise legitimate questions and cause parents to demand answers, you are"disruptive” and LCPS will ban you.

At this same time, I attended numerous other schools (Veterans Day events, PTA meetings) with no issues.

So stop repeating the lies that I disrupted any learning process. It is false and repeated by the teacher union activists who couldn’t care less about free speech and parental rights, just whether they get to keep getting huge raises with zero accountability.


Wait a second.  Did SGP just invalidate his entire attack against the county? “How can one “prevent” others from participating in FB discussions? One can’t.”

I will say that the shear volume of SGP’s posting goes along way toward eliminating competition - this virtual shouting and over talking does not support his claim that all are welcome to participate.


Again, I agree with him being banned from the property if he was causing a disruption to the learning process.  That does not only include when kids are in school but also after school hours during planning sessions. 

In regard to on-line bans, that is ridiculous.  I see his long winded posts and just skip over them and don’t usually bother to read them.  However, even in that regard his speech should not be censored unless it is threatening violence. What the Randall decision highlighted was that it was her “Official” page and not her personal page since she used her official government title.  That would be the difference between an account title President Trump and simply Trump.  Yes he still has individual rights when not acting as the President.


davisB—-  I have come across some great teachers and administrators and some really bad ones that remain unconscionably employed.  We are entitled to request testing data (redacted as needed) and other public records.  It is convenient to label such behavior (requests for public accountability) as “disruptive” to change the narrative.  The circle-the-wagon approach to protect their own is a disservice to the taxpayer and the student.  It seems to me that SGP not only stood up for his own rights, but has certainly made headway to protect your right to free (anonymous) speech as well.  A violated right is just that, whether for 8 hours, or for years.  I give him much credit and thanks for his time and effort to make sure that voices (like yours and mine) are heard.  For that, he is a great American hero (sorry if you feel otherwise).


DavisB “misremembers” some facts.

1. LCPS & VDOE were required by the US DoE to use growth scores to help teachers understand student learning.  Hornberger, Williams and co. refused to even download the data or provide it to teachers. Ambrose finally implemented this using the MAP system this last year but we shall see if it continues.

2. LCPS was also required to use the SGP data as a small part of teacher evals (20%). It’s telling DavisB can’t even remember it was never 100% but a max of 20% (or is he/she intentionally lying). Hornberger, Williams and co. certifies they were doing this despite knowing they made a conscious decision to never download the data. Both the US DoE counsel and Asst US Attorney did not dispute this was fraud since LCPS got $M’s in return for their fraudulent applications for fed funds. If LCPS had used SGPs for just 1%, the teacher names would have always remained confidential.

2a. There is not a single organization that disputes the usefulness of SGP/VAMs at a school or district level despite the propaganda put out by DavisB. And I never asked for any personal student data as that is protected.

3. When I first asked for the data in 2012, Hornberger said it didn’t even exist despite just voting on it. In 2014, both he and and VDOE said it didn’t exist until proven otherwise. Both refused to provide data at ANY level including school-wide or district-wide averages.

4. They lost in court and were ordered to provide the data and $35K.

5. That data confirmed my fears. My kid’s school ranked 900 out of 1100 in math growth in Virginia. How is that for one of the “best” school systems? When shown the data, the principal said she doesn’t believe in it and the PTA refuses to even let other parents become aware of this data despite promising full disclosure earlier.

6. I also learned LCPS participated in the PISA exams. Here, compared to similarly affluent kids across the US and world, LCPS ranked near the bottom in math, reading and science. They hosted a mid-Atlantic PISA conference but didn’t let the public know so they wouldn’t have to explain their poor showing. Those same tests showed LCPS kids believed their teachers were much less likely to care about their well-being than other districts. What did LCPS do in response? They stopped participating in PISA and removed all the PISA info from their website.

7. Through other teachers and my own kid’s experience, I learned LCPS would often reveal the identity of those who failed the SOLs to other students. This was actually the question (parents were nodding in agreement with me and wanted an answer) I asked at the PTA meeting before LCPS banned me from my own kid’s school - what are you doing to protect kid’s privacy? These are federal FERPA violations (yet another illegal act).

8. How can one “prevent” others from participating in FB discussions? One can’t. DavisB and others just didn’t want me participating at all. In fact, Hornberger and wannabe lawyer Rose tried to block me from speaking at LCSB meetings. I showed them the law granted me that right although Rose did her best to illegally block me for months.

9. My friend also learned that Hornberger failed to disclose his boss was a billionaire charter school magnate while Hornberger was voting on charter school issues. 4 of the 9 school board members were also violating the conflict of interest act by not disclosing their spouses were employees when voting on pay raises in the budget.

10. When I asked for things like the PISA test briefings and emails that proved Hornberger lies about SGPs back in 2012, LCPS refused to provide them so I filed a FOIA suit. While refusing to provide me answers to numerous requests, when I had a friend from the Pentagon issue the same request, all of a sudden LCPS answered him within a couple days. But not before they required him to send in identification and accusing me of impersonating a false identity. Have you ever been asked to send in voter reg on a FOIA?

11. LCPS refused to provide Hornberger’s disclosure docs because they didn’t exist. In court, Byard committed perjury to avoid a FOIA violation. The VA state police found the perjury claim “legitimate” and well-documented but Plowman would neither assign a special prosecutor nor prosecute.

12. When I commented on Plowman’s LCAO FB page under a post on special prosecutors about Plowman’s refusal to assign a SP for Byard’s perjury count, Plowman deleted my comment and permanently banned me. He wouldn’t respond to appeal requests. After filing suit and 4 months later, I was finally unblocked. Loudoun changed its social media policy to no longer allow the topic to be a factor and remove discretionary control of bans from any individual.

13. In return for speaking out on all the legal violations by LCPS, I was banned from my kids school, reported to child protective services for things like allowing my child to “wear rain boots to school” (I kid you not), and banned from 5 of the school board member Facebook pages to this day. (that’s 2 years not 8 hours DavisB)

14. At a recorded meeting around March 2016, the principal agreed I was not a threat and would allow me to return to school on one condition. I had to promise not to discuss any of these policy issues/violations with other parents on school property. When I refused that violation of my 1st Amendment, they refused to lift the ban. The director of school admin acknowledged the ban had only been upheld on appeal at the wishes of the school board.

15. The ban expired in June 2016, the principal was demoted from an 800-student school to a 150 student school, and the new principal invited me in with open arms. I visited the school every week this past year at the request of a teacher.

16. At the Feb 2016 town hall, Randall said it was a setup question for me to ask whether the school board should enact a similar ethics pledge as the BOS even though 4 were violating the conflict of interest laws. She blocked me on Facebook after my very first post on her page. She unblocked me and I did not sue.

17. In July 2016, Del Minchew identified a FOIA violation at a Land Use meeting. The BOS and attorney Rogers tried to claim no violation and I criticized that propaganda. My comments on the BOS FB page disappeared and I did sue. I eventually got FB to change its algorithm so folks like DavisB couldn’t gang up and force comments from specific users to vanish. However, given the BOS and Randall asserted the right to ban anyone, anytime on FB, I added the claim on Randall’s Feb violation because she would not acknowledge it was illegal (thus she could decide to do it again). Note that others have been banned from the county FB page for months previously.

18. The Plowman case determined govt FB pages were limited public forums. The judge ultimately excused Plowman’s conduct under an immunity but he can’t even control his own dept FB page now. In the county/Randall case, it was determined it is unconstitutional to ban someone from posting for any length of time based on critical comments. The school board case was dismissed on immunity grounds. It is likely that all 3 cases will be appealed (Plowman and LCSB for sure)

DavisB supports the existing FB ban by school board members. DavisB doesn’t think LCPS should have complied with federal NCLB waiver rules. DavisB doesn’t think you have a right to know how your district or school is performing on a growth basis. Thus, DavisB publishes outright lies to disparage me. Note that there were multiple false allegations against me and my kids in the early stages to “isolate” and “attack” the messenger a la Alinsky principles. They just weren’t expecting someone to suffer through and remain engaged. Their retaliation was felt but did not cause me to stop. There will be consequences for ALL those involved in the retaliation (admins, teachers, parents, board members) once the ruling is reversed on appeal.


Please keep in mind how this all got started.

SGP sued the schools to get personal, testing data on all our children.  He intended to create his own system of grading teachers, deciding on his own who was a bad teacher and who was a good teacher.  This was to be based only on a poorly thought out idea that year-over-year changes in elementary schools SOL scores somehow matters and even more importantly, reflect the quality of teachers. Nothing else would matter. As we can now see, despite his claim that this would revolutionize education and teacher evaluation, nothing has materialized.

While SGP was suing the schools, he disrupted PTO meeting and other parent gatherings trying to sell his wild ideas despite being warned that his behavior was out of line.  When he did not stop his menacing ways, he was banned from his kids’ school.  This is when he started calling school board members corrupt and more. 

He also filled FB and other online sites with these outrageous claims, much of the time not allowing others to contribute to the conversation.  He even went as far as attacking those who actually agreed with him, which was quite bizarre.  But SGP’s SOP is to be the only voice heard. 

So, yes,  he was banned for 8 hours from one FB account and then reinstated.  Yes, he should not have been banned but the situation was fixed a long time ago.  His beef is moot.  Any further attacks are simply his way of keeping his name in the news at the expense of us all.

Before anyone claims SGP as a hero, please remember that he brought this all on himself. Bottom line, we still do not have this fabulous teacher reporting system he promised while SGP gets to post all the outrageous claims he wants.


Let me reiterate, Plowman was the most egregious in banning users.  Plowman took his actions on a county/CA-sanctioned Facebook page.  He is a lawyer and “protector” of Constitutional rights as the CA.  He deleted comments AND banned me for months.  He refused to even acknowledge appeals of his decision.  He took action purely based on viewpoint discrimination and then lied about it in court.  He would never have restored me unless his very competent lawyer told him to beg for forgiveness.

I fully intended to make Plowman the poster child.  But for the court believing his lies (the only comment ever deleted was done because it was “off topic”), he would have received the notoriety and his political career would have been over.  If I win on appeal as expected, he will be known in legal circles but not to the general public as much.

Randall was an afterthought in the Loudoun case because she went along with her attorney’s guidance to stand with the corrupt school board.  If Randall were represented by Hundley (who acknowledged Plowman’s actions were illegal going forward), a claim would never have been filed against her.  It wasn’t her actions that got her in trouble, it was her zealous defense of being able to block anyone in the future simply because she didn’t like what they said.  Call it ignorance, incompetence, or arrogance, that made her the poster child.  The lesson is to part ways with the corrupt school board members like Rose and Hornberger and their lawyers at first chance.  Why serve as their pawns???

There are still compelling issues to be resolved in the county/Randall case.  It hasn’t been widely reported but I got Facebook to change their spam algorithms so gangs of teacher union activists can’t suppress comments of specific Facebook users.  I hope to have Facebook change more policies so that users can’t block others from viewing conversations on public body Facebook pages.  Those won’t garner as much interest because they are not related to Trump but the latter is still a real problem (e.g. I can’t see Randall’s comments when she posts on LTM’s Facebook page now nor any responses to her).

I have never claimed to be smart.  Others throw that accusation to disparage me.  I don’t recall a single profound statement I’ve made.  (well, other than the “retire at the ripe ol’ age of 52 with a $50K/yr pension for life” but my disclosure of that fact is why so many teacher union types hate me)  I simply say what everyone is thinking.  But others might be afraid of blowback or simply aren’t interested enough to post online.

The school board case is much more complicated.  We have right of access, equal protection, free speech, due process, public/private forums, various immunities, etc.  The county/Randall case was simply a proxy for a subset of issues in the school board case.  And Judge Trenga wanted Cacheris to go first.  It’s quite clear Trenga must have written the school board opinion a long time ago and sat on it till Cacheris finished his.  But you can’t say I didn’t warn folks.  I warned Randall and Plowman they would be poster children.  If they had admitted fault (or in Randall’s case just not claimed to be able to ban someone in the future), I would have to accept a consent decree and it would never have gained notoriety.  I’ve told the school board to do the same thing.  If I win on that case as I expect to do, they will be the poster children for corrupt school boards forever in legal precedent.  It won’t garner as much general attention but it will be a huge decision for education law.

What makes Loudoun “special” is it’s very easy to find a politician who will brazenly break virtually any law you want.  You just find your issue, give a corrupt politician a chance to step in it, and then take them to court (outside Loudoun that is).  And it appears they still haven’t learned any lessons from this.


I support Brain’s vendetta against the School Board.  His case against Chair Randall was a bit weak on facts and a bit whiny, but, interesting legal questions were raised that could have national implications.  The case or better yet the decision in the school board matter was not persuasive.  Loudoun County Public Schools do not provide an administrative process by which bared individuals are given a valid opportunity to appeal the decision to bar them with real due process procedures in place.  Thus decisions made in the heat of the moment or without all of the pertinent information stand and a citizen is barred from the schools his tax dollars pay for and his children attend.  On what universe is that right. 

On the Randall case, Brain stumbled over a legal twig and fell into a precedential log cabin.  But Oh Lord if his head is not big enough, it will have Goodyear written across it now.  Just try to be nicer Brain.  We all know you believe you are the smartest man in Loudoun, if you act a bit nicer, some of these folks might start to believe it.  Lol


Leave it to the paper to turn the lawsuit into a negative for Trump, but was silent about Randal.  Regarding online comments, LTM routinely to post comments critical about their Fake News reporting.


BTW—- The ACLU is suing Gov. Larry Hogan for deleting Facebook posts too. 

As far as I am concerned, SGP is a great American and hero for defending the First Amendment for all of us, even for those that wish to post derogatory comments and personal attacks against him under the right to free speech.

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