Embattled Loudoun County School Board member Beth Barts (Leesburg District) on Friday announced her resignation — effective Nov. 2 — from the board in a social media post.
“Please accept this letter as my formal resignation from the Loudoun County School Board effective November 2, 2021. This was not an easy decision or a decision made in haste. After much thought and careful consideration, it is the right decision for me and my family.”
Barts has been embroiled in controversy during her tenure on the school board. She took office in January 2020 following her November 2019 win over Joseph Newcomer.
In September, the group Citizens of the Leesburg District filed a petition to remove her from office by collecting 1,860 signatures, claiming that Barts’ “neglect of duty, misuse of office, and incompetence in the performance of her duties” are among the reasons for their petition.
Charlie King, a Leesburg attorney representing Barts, told the Times-Mirror that he expects the removal case to be dismissed as moot.
Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen (R) was recently appointed to serve as special prosecutor in the case.
A date to schedule a hearing was set for Oct. 25 at 9 a.m. in the Loudoun County Circuit Courthouse.
“All Beth Barts ever wanted was to be on the school board,” King said in an email to the Times-Mirror. “I trust those who taunted her mercilessly over the past months are satisfied. If Ms. Barts had chosen to fight the removal petition, she would have won.”
During her tenure in office, Barts received an official reprimand in November 2020 and a censure on March 4, 2021.
According to School Board Chair Brenda Sheridan (Sterling District), the reprimand involved Barts’s alleged “unauthorized disclosure of confidential, attorney-client-privileged information” from a prior closed session, the specific parameters of which remain unclear.
“I accept the reprimand [the board] issued to me. While I remain committed to continuing to be transparent and open on social media when [it] comes to the greater good and safety of our community including all staff and students,” Barts wrote on Facebook following the reprimand.
On March 4, the school board voted to censure Barts for violating its code of conduct. Barts’ social media activity and various interactions with Loudoun County Public Schools community members — which were deemed inappropriate or inflammatory — led to the censure.
The school board will begin the process of filling the Leesburg District seat in accordance with its Policy 2120, according to a statement from LCPS.
The policy states that within 15 days of a vacancy, the school board will petition the Loudoun County Circuit Court to issue a writ of election to fill the vacancy.
Within 45 days of the vacancy, the remaining members of the school board will appoint a qualified voter of the Leesburg District to fill the vacancy, according to the policy. The School Board will set a deadline for the submission of applications to fill the vacancy. At least seven days prior to the appointment by the School Board, it must hold a public hearing to receive the views of citizens and interview applicants for the Leesburg District seat.
“I want to thank Board Member Barts for her service to the Leesburg District,” said Board Chair Sheridan in a prepared statement. “The School Board will announce its process for filling the Leesburg seat at its October 26 meeting and anticipates filling this position at its December 14 meeting.”
Ian Prior, executive director of Fight for Schools, an activist group seeking her ouster, responded to the news in a Friday post on Facebook.
“This could not have been an easy decision for Ms. Barts,” Prior said. “We have made known our displeasure with her actions as a school board member over the past several months, but today she has done the right thing. Her former colleagues should take notice.”
“The community should know, however, that the problems at Loudoun County Public Schools and on the school board go well beyond one school board member. We will continue to shine a light on Loudoun County Public Schools and will keep fighting until we have a school board of common sense, non-partisan members and a superintendent who is accountable to parents and tells the truth,” he said.