Letter: Thomas Cavallo, Leesburg

Editor: I am writing to bring to light the Human Resources and Talent Development Committee of the Loudoun County School Board’s recently proposed changes to Professional Conduct Policy 7560. Specifically, the new policy states that the following will not be tolerated of Loudoun County Public School employees:

Any comments or actions that are not in alignment with the school division’s commitment to action-oriented equity practices, and which impact an individual’s ability to perform their job responsibilities or create a breach in the trust bestowed upon them as an employee of the school division. This includes on-campus and off-campus speech, social media posts, and any other telephonic or electronic communication.

The updated policy later states in a halfhearted nod to the First Amendment that speech may be infringed in order to “maintain efficiency of the school system,” “maintain public trust and confidence,” and “promote community peace and harmony.”

I am not aware of any statements in the First Amendment limiting speech that is not conducive to efficiency, peace, and harmony. A quick internet search identified the U.S. Supreme Court case Pickering v Board of Education. In this case a teacher was dismissed from their position due to publishing a letter in a local newspaper criticizing a Board of Education’s allocation of school funds. The stated grounds for dismissal were that the letter was “detrimental to the efficient operation and administration of the schools of the district.”

The majority opinion in that case held that the letter written by the teacher was protected speech because it dealt with matters of public concern and that the statements in the letter “concerned issues currently the subject of public attention” and “they were thus entitled to the same protection as if they had been made by a member of the general public.” Should any staff member be dismissed due to these new polices, LCPS would and should be subject to wrongful dismissal lawsuits.

Legal analysis aside, it is greatly troubling to me that a governmental entity would try to squelch the free flow of ideas that is the bedrock of our constitutional republic. The right to free speech and thus open and unrestricted debate was so important to the authors of our constitution they put it in the very first amendment. Who is in a better position to inform the general public of the impacts of LCPS policies on students and staff then the very staff who are charged with implementing those policies? LCPS board members are elected members of our local government. Should they be allowed to silence critics of their policies and so deny voters the chance to fully judge their tenure on the board? Should they be allowed to dictate permissible speech by LCPS staff in the privacy of their own homes or in their private telephone or email conversations? Should they be allowed to deny our community the right to openly debate and discuss issues which impact our children’s lives?

I think not.

Thomas Cavallo, Leesburg

5 thoughts on “Letter: Thomas Cavallo, Leesburg

  • 2020-10-06 at 4:49 pm
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    Wake up teachers and staff. The leftist fringe is stealing your freedom of speech and oppressing your freedom of thought.

    It’s a trial run with teachers being abused as the test subjects. Next, they’ll try it with parents. Williams and the school board have proven unable and unwilling to do their jobs in an effective manner. Resign.

  • 2020-10-07 at 5:10 pm
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    Eviscerating the rights of citizens, who happen to work for the school system, and the rights of citizens who attend schools or have children in schools, is tyranny in no uncertain terms. The idea that elected public servants can tell citizens what they cannot say regarding the school board’s operations is simply not acceptable. Any competent lawyer should know this. So either the board needs to find a competent lawyer or get ready for a series of lawsuits that will likely bankrupt the system.

    Every action by the board shows that “indoctrination” and control are their goals rather than “education.” Residents are either going to have to change the board or assume the responsibility of educating their own children.

  • 2020-10-07 at 9:15 pm
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    1 – This is what happens when both parties and the majority of Loudoun registered voters don’t take school board elections seriously enough to vote.
    2 – This is what happens when the BOS stops scrutinizing what the school board does with the $1.4 billion of tax dollars given to it.
    3 – This is what happens when parents are not given the power to provide performance input to LCPS staff.

  • 2020-10-08 at 10:08 am
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    You hit the nail on the head Tom! This is way out of bounds for the school board! Or any elected official for that matter. Its unconscionable to think you could have Big Brother following you around even in your own home. I have never been more ready for election day. Get these people out. Obviously they are not truly serving the voters of Loudoun County.

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