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Dozens of Loudoun County, Virginia residents held their own shadow school board assembly at a parent’s backyard to protest limits on public comments placed by the official panel after a raucous June meeting over critical race theory led to arrests.
Some 40 parents held the impromptu assembly at a local residence after the Loudoun County School Board eliminated a public viewing area and limited the amount of time parents were allowed to speak before the panel.
The school board cracked down after two people were arrested and hundreds of parents flooded the auditorium in Ashburn on the evening of June 22, angrily accusing the administrators of teaching their kids that racism in the United States is structural and systemic.
One man was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and another was cited for trespassing following the chaotic meeting.
Dozens of Loudoun County, Virginia residents held their own shadow school board meeting at a parent’s backyard to protest being banned from the official panel after a raucous June meeting over the teaching of critical race theory resulted in arrests
Some 40 parents held the impromptu assembly at a local residence after the Loudoun County School Board eliminated a public viewing area and limited the amount of time parents were allowed to speak before the panel
The debates became heated with the two men refusing to leave the building and other protesting parents chanting ‘shame on you’ to the board.
Around 260 parents had signed up to speak at the meeting, and many refused to leave after they were cut off during the public comments section.
The chaos prompted Loudoun County Public Schools to limit the number of speakers allowed inside the building to 10 at a time.
Each speaker would be limited to just two minutes. The changes were set to go into effect on Tuesday.
Parents at the unofficial meeting, which was staged by the grassroots group Fight for Schools, accused the board of seeking to suppress speech.
‘We will not be silenced,’ Jessica Mendez, a mother of two elementary students enrolled at schools in Loudoun County, told Fox News on Tuesday.
‘The school board has made rules for speaking publicly at their meeting that are almost impossible to have a chance to get any reasonable communication with them,’ said Geary Higgins, a former school board member.
Higgins has had children and grandchildren go through the LCPS system.
A spokesperson for LCPS denied that the board is trying to silence dissent.
‘This is not true,’ spokesperson Wayde Byard told Fox News.
‘Loudoun County Public Schools and the School Board do not endorse viewpoint discrimination of any kind.
Parents attended a packed Loudoun County School board meeting in June which descended into chaos
Parents protest against anti-racist teachings in the school district while officials insist CRT is not on the curriculum
Two people were arrested during a school board meeting that descended into chaos
A man is detained after a fight broke out during a Loudoun County School Board meeting
‘As a matter of fact, Chair Brenda L. Sheridan has expanded citizen comment tonight.’
Monica Gill, a social studies teacher at Loudoun County High School, told the gathering: ‘I stand against [Loudoun County Public Schools’] equity policy and initiative because they are critical race theory in disguise.’
Last month, documents surfaced showing that the district spent more than $34,000 on so-called ‘equity leadership coaching’ for its staff.
‘Equity’ has replaced the word ‘equality’ among pro-CRT campaigners, and calls for disadvantaged people to be given more resources to reach the same outcome as their better-off peers.
An invoice, obtained by a parent through a freedom of information request and first reported by Fox News, reveals Loudoun County School Public Schools paid out $34,167 to equity consulting firm The Equity Collaborative in June 2020.
The payment was for coaching between the months of May and June that year, including 25 hours worth of coaching support for the county’s director of equity which alone cost more than $15,000.
CRITICAL RACE THEORY: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The fight over critical race theory in schools has escalated in the United States over the last year.
The theory has sparked a fierce nationwide debate in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests around the country over the last year and the introduction of the 1619 Project.
The 1619 Project, which was published by the New York Times in 2019 to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on American shores, reframes American history by ‘placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the US narrative’.
The debate surrounding critical race theory regards concerns that some children are being indoctrinated into thinking that white people are inherently racist or sexist.
Those against critical race theory have argued it reduces people to the categories of ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on their skin color.
Supporters, however, say the theory is vital to eliminating racism because it examines the ways in which race influence American politics, culture and the law.
The newly-obtained documents also include some of the coaching material used in the sessions such as a ‘motivational framework for culturally responsive teaching’ which critics point out focuses only on African American and Latino students and excludes children of all other ethnicities.
Loudoun County has become a focal point in the ongoing ‘culture war’ debate over race-based educational curricula.
‘We don’t want our kids to be turned into social justice warriors,’ said Elicia Brand, a mother whose three children are enrolled in LCPS.
‘We as parents want to set the tone for the values that our children will see the world with.’
Byard told Fox News the district does not have CRT on its curriculum nor does it have plans to introduce it.
He said the district studies ‘many different schools of thought and philosophies so that you have an understanding of the world.’
Parents are demanding the removal of several members of the school district board while school officials insist that CRT is not on the curriculum pointing to ‘misconceptions and misinformation’ in the media.
Critical Race Theory highlights how historical inequities and racism continue to shape public policy and social conditions today.
It has become a key focus on the curriculum of schools over the last year amid the nationwide reckoning for racial justice following the murder of George Floyd.
But it has starkly divided opinion.
Conservatives allege that students are being taught a warped version of American history that claims the impact of slavery remains present throughout society.
Critics say the teachings reduce people to ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on skin color.
But supporters say it is vital to understand how race impacts society in order to eliminate racism.
Last month, a Virginia gym teacher who was suspended for objecting to two policies related to transgender students because he said they went against his religion was ordered reinstated by a judge, who pointed to free speech and religious liberty in his decision.
Byron Tanner Cross, 38, was suspended from Leesburg Elementary in Loudoun County, Virginia, after speaking at a school board meeting on May 25.
He was arguing over two policies put in place by the public school board: one mandating teachers use the pronouns a transgender child identifies with, and one allowing transgender kids to take part in sports with the gender they identify with.
The second one also allows kids to use the locker room and bathroom of the gender they identify with.
A map shows Loudoun County in Virginia which is known to be America’s wealthiest suburb