Why? What was there to hide?
Those were two fundamental questions we had following one of our reporters being barred from covering a meeting between Loudoun Valley High School parents and Principal Sue Ross last week.
In light of school shootings across the nation and a deluge of parent complaints about a new “personalized learning” approach being implemented at Loudoun Valley and across Loudoun County Public Schools – an approach that has led, according to numerous accounts, to Loudoun Valley students roaming the hallways whenever they feel like it, children leaving campus and teenagers vaping in bathrooms – it seemed worthwhile for us listen in and report on those concerns and the administration's response. A core responsibility of local media is to keep parents up to speed on what's happening inside their children's schools.
How the events played out last Thursday was confounding to say the least. The Times-Mirror reporter wasn't allowed to enter the building for the meeting, and she was eventually escorted off school grounds. Score one for authoritarianism.
When we contacted the public information office, we were told we were being kept out because Ross said so, end of discussion. We called the school, and neither Ross nor the vice principal would come to the phone. Score another for dictatorship.
After making our discontent known and asking why we couldn't be in attendance for a meeting about school security on public school grounds, we were told the gathering was not focused on school safety. By then we had obtained an audio recording of the discussion thanks to a concerned parent who wants the truth to see the light of day. Sure enough, school security was a central point of discussion.
With parents' anxiety escalating, a second Loudoun Valley meeting this week was attended by an estimated 100 parents. Again, media was not welcome, and parents told us there was a stern warning that no one was to record the meeting. How unsettling.
Students, meanwhile, have told us they were disappointed and puzzled as to why they weren't allowed to participate in the meeting. Let the hypocrisy sink in for a second: Loudoun Valley and Loudoun County Public Schools administrators say they want to give students more power over their education with a “personalized learning” approach, then they forbid the same students from attending a meeting about instruction and policy. Tally one for totalitarianism.
The current LCPS administration's steely arrogance is reaching dangerous levels. Ross' desperate power grab would be funny if it weren't so frightening.
Loudoun County Public Schools' devoted protectionists are doing anything but protecting the school system's reputation. With secrecy and silence from one scandal to the next, parents are left searching for answers and pleading with local media for help.