Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Jeanette A. Irby on Wednesday afternoon scheduled for Oct. 5 a pre-trial hearing on motions for a case concerning a petition to recall School Board member Beth Barts. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.
Circuit Court Judge Stephen E. Sincavage recused himself from the case on Monday and rescheduled the matter for Wednesday because he has connections with Loudoun County Public Schools, and his partiality, he said, would be reasonably questioned.
Irby, however, said during the hearing, “I am not recusing myself from this matter.”
Irby said it would be inappropriate for a judge to recuse themselves considering the vagueness of what elected officials or witnesses may be subpoenaed. She said she didn’t know any members of the Loudoun County School Board, nor has she had any children in the school system before scheduling the motions hearing.
As reported on Sept. 1, Barts was ordered to appear to show cause why she should not be removed from office based on the “enumerated charges” brought forth by the group of Loudoun County residents known as the Citizens of the Leesburg District.
The group that filed the petition, Citizens of Leesburg, which collected 1,860 signatures, claims that Barts’ “neglect of duty, misuse of office, and incompetence in the performance of her duties” are among the reasons for their petition.
Additionally, the group requested the court seal personal identifiable information in the case files.
Charlie King, a Leesburg attorney representing Barts, was on the call Wednesday afternoon.
Additionally, the call included Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj (D) — who has been requested to recuse herself due to what the citizens’ group argued is a conflict of interest — and David Warrington, attorney representing petition signer Michael D. Biron.
King, in one of his motions, claimed that the pleading signed by Biron is void because he is not an attorney, pointing to Virginia Code 8.01-271.1, which outlines who is permitted to sign pleadings, motions and other proceedings.
A judge, still to be determined, will hear at least four motions, including King’s motion urging the court to rule that the pleading signed by Biron is void on the claim he is not an attorney.
Additionally, other motions to be heard include Warrington’s motions to disqualify Biberaj, amend the petition, and intervene for Fight For Schools.
The group Fight for Schools has continuously accused LCPS of “indoctrinating” students with ideas rooted in critical race theory and led a recall effort of six of the nine board members.
Ian Prior, executive director of Fight for Schools, told the Times-Mirror earlier this month that Fight For Schools is continuing to collect signatures for the remaining school board members, but for the immediate future the focus will be on monitoring and ensuring a fair process in the removal case against Barts.Fight For Schools identifies itself as a “non-partisan political action committee focused on electing common sense candidates that commit to policies that support equal opportunity, tolerance, meritocracy and achievement.”
LCPS has repeatedly denied the allegations that it has adopted critical race theory in its curriculum.
Critical race theory, according to the American Bar Association, is defined as the understanding that race is “socially constructed and socially significant,” and that “racism is a normal feature of society and embedded within systems and institutions.”
Motions are scheduled to be filed Sept. 27 and Oct. 1 for responses. The hearing is expected to last four hours.