Signatures submitted to Loudoun County Circuit Court against school board member Brenda Sheridan

Supporters of a recall against six of the nine members of the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia submitted signatures against Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan on Nov. 9. Supporters said they filed 1,859 signatures. A total of 803 signatures are required to move the recall forward.

The signatures were submitted to the Loudoun County Circuit Court, where the petition will be reviewed by a judge. If the case is accepted, a trial will be held. At the trial, recall supporters must “demonstrate the officer engaged in neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance” in order to remove Sheridan from office.

At-large representative Denise Corbo, Algonkian District representative Atoosa Reaser, Blue Ridge District representative Ian Serotkin, Broad Run District representative Leslee King, and Leesburg District representative Beth Barts were also included in the recall effort. All six members were supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee in their last elections. The effort against King ended with her death on Aug. 31, and the effort against Barts ended with her resignation effective Nov. 2. Recall supporters had filed enough signatures to advance Barts’ recall to a trial, but she resigned before the trial took place, making the case moot. Petitions against the other three members have not been filed.

The recall effort is sponsored by the Fight For Schools political action committee (PAC). The PAC is led by Ian Prior, who previously worked for the Department of Justice under the Trump administration and for the National Republican Congressional Committee. Recall supporters said they launched the effort due to school board members’ involvement in a private Facebook group. They said the board members’ involvement in the group was a violation of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act as well as the school board’s Code of Conduct because the members discussed public matters in a private setting. Recall supporters also alleged that the district was using Critical Race Theory in its employee training and student curriculum, which they opposed.

Interim Superintendent Scott Ziegler said the district uses a Culturally Responsive Framework that “speaks to providing a welcoming, affirming environment and developing cultural competence through culturally responsive instruction, deeper learning, equitable classroom practices and social-emotional needs for a focus on the whole child.” He said the district did not use Critical Race Theory in its staff training or student curriculum. 

A group called Loudoun For All formed a political action committee to counteract the recall effort. “There is no reason equity in our schools should be this controversial,” Rasha Saad, president of Loudoun For All, said in a statement.

Sheridan was re-elected to a four-year term on the board on Nov. 5, 2019. She assumed office in 2011.

Loudoun County Public Schools served 81,906 students during the 2018-2019 school year and comprised 92 schools.

Ballotpedia has tracked 84 school board recall efforts against 215 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

Out of those 215 board members who were included in recall efforts this year, 16 faced recall elections. One was removed from office in the election, while 15 kept their seats. Five board members will face recall elections scheduled in 2022. Another eight board members resigned from office after recall efforts were started against them. Efforts against 122 members did not go to the ballot, while efforts against 64 members are still ongoing.

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