Attorneys representing 11 parents suing Loudoun County Public Schools and the school board alleging school district policies are “racist” and overly liberal have to go back to the drawing board.
In a Sept. 22 opinion, Judge Douglas L. Fleming Jr., sided with an attorney for the school district and the school board who said the the lawsuit lacks specifics.
“Throughout the complaint, the allegations speak of actions affecting ‘children’ and ‘parents’ with no indication that these effects are ‘particularized or ‘personalized’ to the plaintiffs and their children,” Fleming wrote. “The complaint is but a wholesale, broadside attack on what the school board is teaching in the schools bereft of a single real complaint of injury.”
Fleming gave the attorneys until Oct. 13 to file an amended complaint that includes specifics. If the amended complaint isn’t filed by then, the suit would be dismissed.
The suit, which seeks $1.5 million in damages, was filed on June 29. It contends the district violated the parent’s constitutional rights to “provide moral instruction and to teach their children about religion, race, sex, gender identity, and culture” are being violated.
The parents accuse school leaders of taking advantage of the “susceptibility and vulnerability” of students to “willfully impose their own social, political, and psychological ideology and agenda to shape and control student’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviors” regarding equal rights, sex and the relationship between parents and their children. They also say teachers are required to “secretly facilitate” gender transition of students and staff use “racial balancing and quotas” to discriminate over who gets in advanced classes and special academic programs. The suit calls for a “special master” to run the district to ensure constitutional compliance.
At a Sept. 16 hearing, attorney Jesse R. Binnall, who represents the parents, told Fleming that a “racist ideology” and “gender identity politics” are being taught. He said they were “short-circuiting” the plaintiffs’ ability to parent their children.
Attorney Matthew D. Green, who represents LCPS and the school board, countered that the suit read like a “press release” and lacked specific instances of harm being done to the children of the plaintiffs. As a hypothetical example, he said if the school district implemented policies that harmed dyslexic children, a lawsuit would have to be filed by parents of the dyslexic children, not random parents.
Fleming’s opinion largely sided with Green’s contentions. He said “nearly the entirety” of the complaint lacks details and facts.
“As a whole, the complaint is so replete with broad, conclusory statements that it cannot be said to clearly inform the factual basis of the plaintiff’s claims,” Fleming wrote. “In an overwhelming number of averments, the complaint alleges acts with respect to ‘children’ and ‘students’ generally, and not which — if any — of the plaintiff’s children were the subject of the acts.”
Fleming was also dismissive of parents’ contention that district policy 8040, which requires staff to not reveal a student’s gender identity to fellow students or parents, deprived them of their parental rights. Citing legal precedent, Fleming said for the complaint to be valid, the conduct must be done knowing the parent doesn’t consent and must be comparable to an abduction.
“The conduct of the defendants sued upon is their policy of withholding information regarding a child’s claimed gender and supporting a child’s gender transition — allegations that do not resemble an abduction or anything comparable,” Fleming wrote.
Regarding alleged racial discrimination, the suit cited at least one plaintiff’s child who was denied admission to the Academies of Loudoun, a school with a heavy focus on engineering, math, science and technology. Another plaintiff’s child didn’t apply to the school believing they would be denied admission because they were the “wrong race.” according to the suit which doesn’t say what race the child is.
But Fleming wrote there was no evidence in the suit that the student was denied admission because of their race. He said if there was discrimination, it would affect all children in the district. And he noted that if there was discrimination, it would affect students rather than than parents. Green noted at the Sept. 16 hearing that the suit doesn’t include any students as plaintiffs.
The parents are being backed by America First Legal, a right-wing group that has filed lawsuits around the nation against liberal policies. The group is led by Stephen Miller, senior adviser to former President Donald J. Trump and its board of directors includes Mark Meadows, former Trump chief of staff. In an email, Ian Prior, senior adviser to America First Legal, said the parents plan to file an amended complaint to “vindicate their fundamental right under the Virginia Constitution to be in charge of the case, custody, and control of their minor children.”