A group of Loudoun residents seeking the ouster of five school board members filed a petition with the Loudoun County Circuit Court on Tuesday to have Chair Brenda Sheridan of the Sterling District removed from office, according to a press release issued that day.
Ian Prior, executive director of Fight for Schools — the organization behind the effort — said the group has collected 1,217 signatures from Sterling residents calling for Sheridan’s removal.
Prior said the reasons behind the effort to remove Sheridan are neglect of duty, misuse of office and incompetence in the performance of her duties.
“As Chairwoman, Brenda Sheridan has overseen and personally contributed to a complete breakdown in trust between the community and the Loudoun County School Board,” Prior said in a statement.
“From violating open meetings law to ignoring the school board’s code of conduct to neglecting to keep our children safe, all for her activist causes, Sheridan has been nothing short of a disaster as the so-called leader of Loudoun County Public Schools,” he said.
“Let this serve as a message to the rest of the board and Superintendent [Scott] Ziegler: if you thought that this was all about an election, then you have once more failed to properly judge the resolve of your constituents,” Prior added. “We’re still here and we’re not going anywhere.”
In a Tuesday night email response, Sheridan countered that “citizens of the Sterling District elected me in 2011, 2015 and 2019 ... My election was a mandate from those who came to the polls — three times — to choose me as their representative. Tuesday’s filing is the result of a fraction of those citizens signing a petition, whether they voted or not.”
She said provisions of the Code of Virginia allow for the recall of public officials, and “I will see this process through.”
Sheridan added that being a member of the school board is public service, and “it is not always easy or popular.” She said her dedication to the children of Sterling stems from seven years spent as a substitute teacher and volunteering as an education advocate at the local, state and national levels.
“This dedication will continue long after my service on the School Board ends, which I fully anticipate will be the conclusion of my elected term,” she said.
The filing includes allegations that Sheridan limited the First Amendment rights of speakers and listeners by shutting down public comments at board meetings and implementing rules to curb speakers based on their viewpoint.
Fight for Schools volunteers collected the 1,217 signatures over the course of 13 days, according to the press release.
Fight for Schools is seeking the removal of three other school board members: Ian Serotkin of the Blue Ridge District, At-Large member Denise Corbo and Algonkian District member Atoosa Reaser.
Former Leesburg District member Beth Barts resigned on Nov. 2, amid Fight for Schools’ effort to recall her from her post. She cited threats against her and her family as the reason for her resignation.
The late Broad Run District member Leslee King was removed from the group’s recall list after her death at the end of August. King died due to complications from heart surgery, aged 74.
Petitions to remove an elected official from office require signatures from district residents equal to at least 10% of the votes cast for that official’s post during the last election, according to Virginia Code.