Loudoun School Board Censures Leesburg District Representative

Leesburg District School Board member Beth Barts (Leesburg) was the subject of a formal censure vote Thursday night.

Following a more than two hour closed session held virtually, the School Board voted 7-0 to publicly reprimand Barts for hersocial media postingsdeemed to expose elements of the board’s private deliberations and to spread misinformation.

As part of the action, the board approved Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan’s (Sterling) proposal to make public portions of closed sessions previously protected by attorney-client privilege dating back to June 2020 and dealing with concerns about Barts’ conduct—five meetings in all. The motion to permit that disclosure passed on a 6-0 vote, with Harris Mahedavi (Ashburn) abstaining and Barts and Denise Corbo (At Large) absent.

“The reason I’ve made this motion is for the public to be aware of the board and the board chair’s efforts to address the behavior of board members, to train and retrain on policy and good boardsmanship,” Sheridan said.

The censure motion by Sheridan stated: “The School Board finds that School Board member Beth Barts did violate School Board policy 1030 Code of Conduct for School Board membersin failing to put student interests first, paragraph B2; failed to show respect for fellow board members and staff in the spirit of harmony and cooperation, paragraph B3; failed to welcome and encourage active cooperation of Loudoun County residents and the district, paragraph B9; and failed to work in the spirit of teamwork in service to the community, paragraph B10. And that this board does not condone the behavior of School Board member Beth Barts and does hereby publicly censure her.”

That motion was approved on a 7-0-2 vote, with Barts and Corbo absent.

“This is not in reaction to any one event.,” Sheridan said. “This is a response to a culmination of behaviors over the last 14 months, from the beginning of this term until today.”

“I believe our job is to look out for the students and, by extension, the entire community. And that community of students, parents and taxpayers here in Loudoun are smart,” Vice Chairwoman Atoosa Reaser (Algonkian) said. “They know that this has nothing to do with transparency or sharing information. They know that breaking attorney-client confidentiality is not about the kids or the best interest of the kids or the best interest of the board or the best interest of the school division. They know that threatening colleagues to call misleading press conferences and other threats are not about the kids. They know that the best interest of the kids is to share information not misinformation. They know that creating chaos and confusion is a way of deflecting from what is actually happening. They know the difference between a misunderstanding and repeated intentional behavior, as you just talked about, over the past 14 months. They know that when you apologize and make a promise to stop bad conduct, repeating it is no longer a simple misunderstanding,

“Ms. Barts, your repeated violation of the Code of Conduct has made it impossible, not only for all of us, your colleagues, to do our best, job, but it impacts the staff’s ability to take care of our students. It saddens me deeply that you’ve gone back on your promise to stop this. As you know this has nothing to do with transparency or your social media. The censure has only to do with your own misconduct,” Reaser said.

Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridge) highlighted the number of times the School Board had addressed the concerns in closed session before moving to a public censure. “What I am supporting tonight is not an action I take lightly, but a reflection of the fact that nothing else that we have tried has worked.”

Barts and her attorney, Charles King, posted a statement on her Facebook page Friday afternoon responding to the action.

“It’s not my job to be liked. It’s my job to ask hard questions, work to provide the best education for our kids, make sure our teachers are paid what they really deserve and represent the people of Leesburg,” Barts stated.

She also said she was appreciative of the calls and emails she has received from constituents in her district expressing support for her following the board action.

King raised questions about the process of the School Board’s closed-door discussion of Barts’ actions, saying they were notified about the plans only two days earlier and his request to delay the meeting so more information could be gathered was denied. He said Barts was not informed about all the specific allegations until the meeting.

“Watching this process, parents should be concerned about the judgment of the elected officials in charge of the commonwealth’s third largest school system.”

5 thoughts on “Loudoun School Board Censures Leesburg District Representative

  • 2021-03-05 at 10:36 am
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    This group of people should be focused on getting Loudoun’s children back in school, full time, with teachers in front of the class, teaching. They should be focused on reducing waste in the budget. They should be focused on delivering a good public education to all who want it.

    Instead, we get posturing. Virtue signaling. Wasteful spending. And more virtue signaling.

    Children are not pawns. Teachers are not in charge of LCPS.

    If you can not or will not do the job for which you ran and were elected, then step down.

  • 2021-03-05 at 3:09 pm
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    I know I am not the only Loudoun taxpayer thinking that Ms Barts is an embarrassment and should RESIGN NOW.

    If a medical doctor or a shrink was caught posting private information on social media, there would be big problems for those individuals.

    But here, in Loudoun Education La La Land, someone that has VIOLATED her oath gets slapped on the wrist and remains in her position.

    PATHETIC.

  • 2021-03-05 at 4:13 pm
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    I’ve never been a fan of public schools but, even by my low standards, LCPS has really driven off a cliff. I hope there is enough parental outrage to get some real movers and shakers into the next school board who will launch a full-fledged assault on any remaining Democrat board members (why do people vote for a political party that actively harms our children?) and liberal bureaucrats who are harming Loudoun’s kids.

  • 2021-03-05 at 5:46 pm
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    All of the school board could be censured for “in failing to put student interests first”. Looks like a witch hunt to distract from the rest of their failing to put students first.

  • 2021-03-05 at 9:34 pm
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    David, you are exactly right. We need at least 1 competent person on that SB just to call out the nonsense that goes on at every meeting.

    But this action is very scary. It is essentially a mafia SB (and it is comprised of both parties if you consider Morse a RINO/Republican) trying to silence a member who dares to resist their efforts at total secrecy. This action was not taken because Barts’ action hurts kids. This action was taken because Barts wouldn’t keep the secret deals and the propaganda of the SB under wraps. If the corrupt, incompetent SB can control the communication channels, they can avoid some of the outrage from the public.

    I am no Barts fan. She couldn’t care less about kids (just like most of the SB members). Her overriding goal is to shower $$ on LCPS employees and to implement a woke agenda. But she also speaks out when she loses a vote. There is nothing wrong with that. Politicians at the local, state and national level do it to rally support to overturn that decision. It’s called politics. You don’t surrender your policy goals/principles because you lost one vote. Just because Barts’ principles solely revolve around privileging adults over kids (so do many other SB members) doesn’t mean she cannot speak out.

    This is just one more reason to vote them ALL out in 2023. Install a competent and transparent SB that doesn’t need to put on show trials to silence a non-cooperating member of the cartel.

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