School Board Threats

Loudoun County Public Schools provided the Times-Mirror with more than a dozen threats sent to school board members over the last several months.

Loudoun County Public Schools officials confirmed to the Times-Mirror on Wednesday that school board members have been receiving violent threats over email for several months, and outgoing Leesburg school board member Beth Barts said the threats ultimately prompted her resignation.

An LCPS spokesperson sent the Times-Mirror more than a dozen emails containing violent threats against members of the school board. While the threats vary in tone and substance, more than one mentions board members being dragged from their homes and hung by a rope. Others direct violent and sexist language against school board Chair Brenda Sheridan and Vice Chair Atoosa Reaser.

“The Thursday night before I resigned, a police car sat in front of my house with the lights on for hours,” Barts told the Times-Mirror on Wednesday, referencing her resignation announcement on Oct. 15. She recalled waking up at around 3 a.m. that morning and finding the officer gone.

“I realized literally that there was nothing I could do to keep my family safe if someone wanted to follow through with their threats,” Barts said. “I started writing my resignation letter at 3 a.m.” After conferring with friends and constituents in Leesburg later that morning whom she said told her, “‘No. It is time. You need to leave,’” Barts posted her resignation announcement to social media around 1 p.m.

One email that an LCPS spokesperson said was forwarded to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday reads, “Your kids will now be targeted just like how you have targeted all our kids! If you have no kids your relatives kids will be targeted ... We have no choice to but arm ourselves from the Stasi you have ordered to attack us.”

The Stasi was the state security service for Soviet East Germany between 1950 and 1990.

Another message dated June 23 contains several anti-Semitic and homophobic slurs. The author writes, “Hope someone pours a gallon of gasoline down your diseased sodomite anus, and burns you in the street like the piece of utterly worthless child-molesting DOG S- — that you are.”

The forwarded emails include referrals from Sheridan, Reaser and LCPS superintendent Scott Ziegler to the school district’s director of safety and security, John Clark, for investigation. Sheridan wrote, “Please report this individual to LCSO and higher as appropriate,” when she forwarded the June 23 message.

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return a request for comment on the threats.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo on Oct. 4, directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Attorney’s Offices to meet with law enforcement leaders at the federal, state, local and tribal and territorial levels to address harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members across the country.

“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values,” Garland wrote. “Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Virginia and Virginia Attorney General’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Times-Mirror.

Newly-appointed Loudoun school board member for the Broad Run District, Andrew Hoyler, told the Times-Mirror on Wednesday that while he understands some parents’ frustrations with the board, others are “threatening to drag us out of our houses into the streets and telling us that we need to hang ourselves and that they’ll supply the rope.”

“What is going through these people’s minds to say these things” he said.

And Barts — whose last day with the school board will be Nov. 2 — said she has no regrets about her service, but added that she will never run for public office again.

“It has been quite a journey. And I have no regrets,” she said. “I have received a tremendous amount of support from the community,” she said. After announcing her resignation, Barts said Leesburg residents have sent flowers and greeting cards in recent days.

At the same time, “I will never put my family in a situation where I have to choose between being an elected official and worrying about their safety,” Barts said. “Never again.”

Nathaniel Cline contributed to this report.

(3) comments

jke

Metro known as the Loudoun County School Board of Transportation, lol. No one I know has threatened or bullied anyone calling activists who want the best for their children agitators is reaching deep into the hyperbole bag of tricks but that is what you expect once you "out" the Real Democrats of Loudoun County!

Ellie Lockwood

It’s really difficult to gin up much sympathy for Barts and the other School Board members who organized a well coordinated scheme to attack parents who were objecting to their liberal agenda. Using social media platforms to share personal information including job, home address and family information including naming their children. There are numerous examples of serious threats, including here in Loudoun County, that turned out to be self-generated, and given the exalted level these people have assigned themselves, this could well be the case here. I think it’s more likely that Barts resigned when she realized her legal expenses were about to escalate exponentially. I believe we will see more resignations once the additional recall petitions are filed with the Court.

Tony Fasolo

Talk about looking at things from the wrong direction. Beth Barts and other school board members deserve to get threatened with loss of Life? Why?? Because they helped students safe by requiring face masks? Be cause they refused to be bullied by people who used every trick to stop those who supported the school board? Because the school board did their duty to follow up and implement a State plan to make ALL students feel safe in school? I know now why the Justice Department is warning about parents being disruptive at meetings and stifling anyone who speaks in favor of the school board. What do the students think when they see parents snd outside agitators acting the way they do?

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