Parents Challenge Loudoun Academies Admission Policy Changes with Lawsuit

Thirty-seven Loudoun County parents have filed a lawsuit asking a Circuit Court judge to determine whether recently adopted changes to the Academy of Science and the Academy of Engineering and Technology violate their constitutional rights. The suit also alleges the board violated Virginia’s open meeting laws when the changes were adopted.

The changes were proposed by Superintendent Eric Williams as one element of the school division’s new anti-racism campaign. Earlier this year, Virginia’s Office of the Attorney General announced it was investigating complaints about the extreme low number of Black and Hispanic students accepted into the advanced STEM programs.

Among the changes were to reduce the number of tests used during the months-long qualification period and to create mechanisms to require the slots be distributed more equally among students from each Loudoun middle school.

The lawsuit, filed by Milton C. Johns of Executive Law Partners on behalf of the families, claims the new procedures move away from an objective, merit-based selection process, were developed using faulty data, and do not promote equal opportunity.

While one stated purpose of the changes was to promote racial and ethnic diversity by increasing enrollment of Black and brown students, the petitioners raise another concern.

“The inescapable conclusion from the LCPS presentation is that too many Asian students are admitted to the Academies, and LCPS intends to reduce the number of Asian students, notwithstanding the merit of each student,” reads one paragraph of the 16-page lawsuit.

But even the attempt to increase diversity through the use of geographically balanced admission of middle school students is uncertain to accomplish that goal, the lawsuits states, because the policy make no connection to race, ethnicity or socio-economic status.

“In short, the enrollment at the academies is dependent on who applies, who is admitted, and of those admitted, who decides to enroll. None of those factors can be controlled for geographic diversity without the creation of a quota system,” the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit claims the new process violates the equal protection requirements of14thAmendment and asks the court to impose an injunction to block use of the new rules for the 2021 admissions class.

The new admissions procedures were adopted Aug. 11 during a School Board meeting conducted electronically, with all members and administrators participating from their homes.

The lawsuit also alleges violations of Virginia’s Freedom on Information Act. Those stem from what members of the public could not see during the webcasted meeting.

The School Board initially voted 5-4 to not adopt the change, but instead to send the proposal to a committee for additional vetting. Immediately after that vote, Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) called a recess and the cameras of the School Board members were turned off. Upon returning from the recess, Denise Corbo (At-Large), who had supported the committee review, requested a reconsideration. The policy was then adopted on another 5-4 vote.

The lawsuit views the change as a result of communications that occurred outside of the public’s view in which one or more members persuaded Corbo to reverse her vote.

“The off-camera meeting was intentional to shield the whipping of votes from public scrutiny on a topic that appeared to be resolved,” the lawsuit states.

The suit seeks both that the board issued an order prohibiting meetings of three or more members without required public notice and access, and an injunction nullifying the motions that followed the recess.

The lawsuit was filed Sept. 1 with service requested to the School Board, which will file an answer before proceedings are held. The School Board is scheduled to receive a closed-door legal briefing on the lawsuit and Virginia Division of Human Rights investigation on Sept 10.

10 thoughts on “Parents Challenge Loudoun Academies Admission Policy Changes with Lawsuit

  • 2020-09-07 at 8:41 pm
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    Merit based selection. Nope. Squeaky Eric Williams decided a persons skin color should be the deciding factors which is RACIST.

    Williams should resign. He is an embarrassment to Loudoun County.

    • 2020-09-08 at 9:15 am
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      I agree, Master Bedroom – the top applicants should be selected objectively (admissions exam). Since we as a society have decided that taxpayers need to fund K-12 education, the money should follow the child. This would result in a plethora of options for parents.

    • 2020-09-12 at 7:18 pm
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      Dr. Williams wrote in his “Equity Statement” that everyone must engage in the “disruption and dismantling of white supremacy . . . .” He should heed his own words and resign as an example of complying with the “disruption and dismantling of white supremacy.”

  • 2020-09-08 at 9:33 am
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    LCPS is fighting perceived racism with an ACTUAL racist policy.

    You cannot make this stuff up.

  • 2020-09-08 at 10:48 am
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    Take logic and turn it on its head. That’s how liberals think.

  • 2020-09-08 at 1:29 pm
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    Let me know if you want an 8 year former school board member who had a son attend the Academy of Science as a witness in your lawsuit. Clearly the intent of the school board goes well beyond demographic equivalence which “IS” (no matter how you define what IS IS) discriminatory. Interestingly the same “preference” for vocations exists in the hiring of teachers as demographics is used for some groups and NOT for Asian teachers even though the concept should apply there as well. Even the word “minority” is abused by the policies of LCPS yet the school board seems to merely sit back and cheer no matter what is put in front of them. Did you know the first two years of the AOS program is a transcript numbered course that could be taught at ALL LCPS HIGH SCHOOLS? It does not need to be taught in a centralized location meaning hundreds of qualified students of all races and cultures are denied this proven valuable course. It seems this option is denied just so the Superintendent gets to check off the box showing Loudoun to have an exclusive academy for 64 students per year out of the 85,000 enrolled.

  • 2020-09-08 at 3:11 pm
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    This is great, proactive thinking. Now the school board will have another reason to launch an “apology tour” in 30 or 40 years. Savvy public servants are always thinking ahead. Remember this when you go to the polls again. School board votes matter.

  • 2020-09-08 at 4:18 pm
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    so I guess MLK was wrong. Well at least as far as LCPS is concerned. Wait they want to erase history so they probably forgot what he said. let’s give them a primer – Judge a person by the content of their character not the color of their skin. Take race and color out of it and judge them by results only.

    It funny they are doing this racist policy because they don’t want to be perceived as racist but this it the same school system that must have been racist in who and what they teach. So LCPS answer me this question why are certain minorities falling behind in LCPS? Are you not doing your jobs? Do you send good teachers to only certain schools? Do some schools not have books or computers?

  • 2020-09-08 at 4:59 pm
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    The plan to allow certain minority students to attend classes for which they are not prepared would be psychologically damaging to them. Instead, I would do what rich parents do: send their student to prep school, except this prep school with small classes would be in a Loudoun school building. These minority students would be selected on their academic potential and motivation to prepare themselves for a future challenging Academy curricula. They would have to earn admittance to the Academy. I don’t know at what grade students would begin attending this “prep school.” I leave that to the educators.

    Years ago I saw on TV a black female student who was interviewed at UVA. She made sure that the interviewer knew she was admitted to UVA on her own merit, not affirmative action or any other program that promotes minority matriculation. I thought her complaint informative.

  • 2020-09-09 at 2:25 pm
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    All good comments from concerned Loudoun parents!!

    While Williams destroys Loudoun education, why has his hapless school board not spoken out? Will not one of you speak the truth?

    How about this new tolerance agenda that Williams is fast tracking in our schools? If you go to the web site, tolerance.org, I believe it will frighten most parents. We are not interested in a Marxist curriculum Mr Williams.

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