A Leesburg attorney is challenging a petition brought forth by a group of Loudoun County residents seeking the removal of School Board member Beth Barts (Leesburg District).
Charlie King, a Leesburg attorney representing Barts, filed a motion on Tuesday urging the court to rule that the pleading signed by Michael D. Biron is void on the claim he is not attorney and asked the court to award attorney’s fees to his client for having to file and argue the motion.
As reported last week, the group of Loudoun County residents known as the Citizens of the Leesburg District filed a petition with the Circuit Court to have Barts (Leesburg District) removed from office. Additionally, the group requested the court seal personal identifiable information in the case files and asked that Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj (D) recused from the case due to what they argued is conflict of interest.
“There are problems with the recusal motion,” King said.
“It’s not signed by an attorney, so it doesn’t count,” he said. “If it were, the Citizens of Leesburg don’t have legal standing to ask that Ms. Biberaj be removed. The defective pleadings show Fight for Schools is not ready for prime time.”
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.
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.”
Ian Prior, executive director of Fight for Schools, told the Times-Mirror 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.
The Times-Mirror reached out to Prior following King’s motion.
He responded, “Because the substantive evidence is so overwhelming against Beth Barts, it was expected that she would try and bog down the removal effort by fights on process,” Prior said.
“We are confident that the court will see these tactics for what they are and that Barts will have to appear in court to show why she should not be removed from office,” he said.
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, residents are targeting other School Board members including Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling District), Vice Chairwoman Atoosa Reaser (Algonkian District), Denise Corbo (At-Large) and Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridge District).
School Board member Leslee King, who represented the Broad Run District and was targeted for removal, died on Tuesday due to complications from heart surgery.
The recall effort began in March after Fight for Schools found the six board members joined a private Facebook group called Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County (ARPLC).
A member of that group allegedly called for other members to “infiltrate” another anti-CRT parent group, Parents Against Critical Theory (P.A.C.T.), through potentially illicit means.
After a four-month investigation the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office determined that social media posts in the private Facebook group did not constitute criminal action.
Petitions to remove an official from elected office must be signed by people from that official’s jurisdiction equal to 10% of that office’s voter count in the last election, according to the Code of Virginia.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney said in a statement to the Times-Mirror that the Circuit Court has not granted the petition, as no rule to show cause why Barts should be removed has been issued.
“Until a rule to show cause is issued, there is no matter that needs to be addressed by the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Loudoun County,” the release states. “Thus, there is no response warranted by our office or Buta Biberaj, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Loudoun County.”
On Monday, King also filed a motion requesting the judges of the 20th Judicial Circuit recuse themselves from the hearing and requested that the Supreme Court of Virginia appoint a judge designate.
Horus Alas contributed to this report.