Loudoun School Board Tightens Reins on Public Commenters

After months of public comments sessions taking up hours of its twice-monthly meetings—and often generating national news sound bites—the School Board is tightening the reins on who may speak, citing an effort to prevent politicization by “out-of-town agitators.”

Starting at Tuesday’s meeting to participate in the public comment period, speakers must either be residents in the county, owners of businesses located in the county, students, parents of students, or employees of the school system, according to a Sept. 23 announcement of the changes. Speakers must prove they are qualified to speak by providing a driver’s license, a bill for proof of residency, a current employee or school ID, and email from the district during the current school year regarding a student, or a student report card or progress report.

“The School Board is making these changes in order to ensure that the voices of our parents and the LCPS community are heard rather than out-of-town agitators who would make the Board meetings a platform for national politics or to enhance their own media profiles,” Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) said in the statement.

The statement also said that neighboring jurisdictions enforce much stricter guidelines to determine who may speak.

“Even with these changes, the School Board is one of the few governmental bodies that has minimal restrictions on speakers. Even with these changes, the School Board has some of the most open public comment practices in our region,” Sheridan said.

The change comes after the June 22 meeting erupted into chaos during the public comment portion of the meeting, and Superintendent Scott Ziegler declaring an unlawful assembly. During that meeting, droves of parents spoke out both in support of and against the district’s equity work—dubbed liberal political indoctrination by critics—and the then-proposed transgender student protections. Two parents were detained by deputies. Clips from that meeting continue to air on nationwide conservative news networks.

The Aug. 10 meeting featured a revised speaking format, where only 10 speakers were permitted in the building at one time and were required to line up and enter the board room one at a time.

School district spokesman Wayde Byard said that the changes will be the practice going forward.

Before the upcoming Sept. 28 meeting, conservative commentator Matt Walsh will appear at a rally outside of the School Administration Building in protest of the recently adopted transgender student protections.

15 thoughts on “Loudoun School Board Tightens Reins on Public Commenters

  • 2021-09-24 at 12:14 pm
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    At first, I opposed the new guidelines banning outsiders from commenting at LCPS school board meetings. After all, isn’t LCPS trailblazing for the rest of the nation? It has some of the most compassionate policies anywhere. But then I read Brenda’s explanation & have to agree. Outsiders are being brought into Loudoun County simply to rile up folks, for whatever purpose. It’s egregious that Trans students are being demonized to accomplish that goal. Why give rabblerousers a platform at board meetings? Let them spew their hate somewhere else. Loudoun County remains focused on ensuring a quality education for EVERY student. Thank you!

  • 2021-09-24 at 12:18 pm
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    It’s racist to demand ID when voting but it’s okay to demand ID when attending a public meeting to address elected officials? It’s clear the LCPSB doesn’t care what the residents of Loudoun County want and will go to tyrannical ends to stop from hearing from the people of the county. It’s well past time to recall the entire board. Remember this when you return to the polls at every election.

    • 2021-09-24 at 1:43 pm
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      Jonathan, my sentiments exactly. Requiring credentials to establish residency to speak at a public meeting is acceptable, but requiring the same identification to vote is racist. Hypocrisy in action.

  • 2021-09-24 at 4:15 pm
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    This wording from the article is a bit confusing.
    “Speakers must prove they are qualified to speak by providing a driver’s license, a bill for proof of residency, a current employee or school ID, and email from the district during the current school year regarding a student, or a student report card or progress report.”

    Is the requirement for an “..email from the district…regarding a student…report” required in addition to, I am assuming, one of the other ID related documents? If so that really does narrow who is eligible to speak. Nothing like having a tyrannical government agency set conditions to stifle dissent. But, then again, a person speaking at the latest Fairfax County School Board meeting had her microphone turned off before her time was up. School boards should realize parents are fighting back.

  • 2021-09-24 at 5:08 pm
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    The current board’s authoritarian stifling of dissent by parents is the best reason to vote them out and get new people who represent the people. Don’t believe the outsider claims. Over 99% of the people the board wants to shut down are Loudoun residents. We oppose teaching Marxist racial theory, and support girls privacy and girls sports teams. The current board members are radical activists with no regard for parents rights and our children.

  • 2021-09-24 at 5:29 pm
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    Personally I support this move and never understood why outsiders were allowed to share their opinions.

    It is best if only Loudoun parents are ignored by the LCSB. No need for outsiders to feel irrelevant as well.

    • 2021-09-27 at 11:57 am
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      Are you okay with LCPS holding meetings with “business leaders” that aren’t from Loudoun?

      • 2021-09-28 at 8:04 am
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        If the business is located in Loudoun, yes. The business pay Loudoun taxes and usually hire Loudoun residents.

        They have a valid stake in the education system.

  • 2021-09-24 at 8:35 pm
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    The LCPS Clown train continues .

    Board members have made it clear they don’t want parent input. I think input from other counties has been a good thing and always offered a different view point that may or may not be of value to Loudoun.

    These radical board members DO NOT HAVE LOUDOUN YOUTH’S education as the number one priority. Instead, they spend valuable time fighting so over who can use the ladies restrooms in schools. They DEFEND pornographic books that are required reading in Loudoun County. The list of radical crap is long.
    They should all resign now, but none of them have the integrity.

  • 2021-09-27 at 10:39 am
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    Slowly conditioning us to accept having civil rights and constitutional freedoms restricted.

  • 2021-09-28 at 9:19 am
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    Loudoun County is tired of outside agitators using our children and our public servants as collateral damage in their war against imaginary problems like a few kids who identify as trans and the critical race theory that isn’t actually being taught in our schools. We don’t need outsider idiots like Matt Walsh grandstanding and for advocating reckless policies to whip up the right-wing outrage machine further.

    I have no problem with limiting speakers to actual stakeholders in the schools. The bogus comparisons to voting are silly — you still need to register and identify yourself as a resident of the district in which you vote even without a photo ID. This is really no diferent.

  • 2021-09-28 at 4:09 pm
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    LCPS will listen to “business leaders” from outside of Loudoun. Regardless of whether they pay taxes in Loudoun. Or employ residents of Loudoun. Or can even point to Loudoun on a map of the Commonwealth.

    But when it comes to public SB meetings? NOPE, gotta produce an ID to prove oneself worthy of addressing the SB. And there will be a timer. And you will bow.

    Blatant hypocrisy, courtesy of the political hacks running the failing LoCo educational system.

    The children, parents and taxpayers of Loudoun deserve better.

  • 2021-09-29 at 7:06 am
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    Freedom of speech, is freedom to speak.
    These few school board members placing mandates on it seems to give way to taping the mouth closed of the very citizens that have come forth to address serious issues. If anger is voiced, let it be heard. Anger is a defense mechanism and it can be used productively. Hear ye, hear ye let freedom of speech ring and let it be heard at these meetings. If the school board can’t stand the heat, it is because they must be creating it. You can’t rob the public of input. And like in the nursing field they have welcomed every professional’s input to improve their profession. Teachers need outside professionals to help. Isn’t this why open society sends in their associations and organizations to push their agenda. Teachers and parents you own this. It is your students and children not the boards.

    You can’t recruit or retain very educated professionals when they fear retribution for speaking out. And obviously this is what is going on because otherwise this article would not have been written and posted. They can’t keep blaming the loss of teachers on the lack of professionals going into this field. Teachers it is time to step away from the hold the unions have on you and speak out. There are more teachers and tax paying parents and grandparents vs school board members and school administrators. This is why they want to silence you.

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