Barts Recall Case Advances; Commonwealth’s Attorney Disqualified

A Loudoun Circuit Court judge on Tuesday denied a motion to dismiss the voter petition to remove School Board member Beth Barts (Leesburg), and disqualified Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj from prosecuting the case.

Barts is facing a removal effort spearheaded by the group Fight for Schools. The group alleges that Barts’ involvement in a private Facebook group violated open meeting laws and the School Board’s Code of Conduct, among other charges.

During a four-hour hearing Oct. 5, Judge Jeanette Irby denied a motion to dismiss the pleadings on a technicality. Charlie King, the attorney for Barts, argued that the verbiage in the petitions did not make it apparent enough to signees that they were agreeing to grievances against Barts, under penalty of perjury. Irby said it was clear to petitioners that by signing, they were affirming the allegations.

She also denied a separate motion to dismiss the pleadings based on a claim that Fight for Schools lacked standing to intervene in the case. King argued that the only named parties in the case are the commonwealth and the defendant, and intervention they the activist group was not appropriate.

In ruling that Biberaj should be removed from the case, Irby said that her decision was based on a perception issue because the public might not trust Biberaj’s impartiality.

“I have the utmost respect for Ms. Biberaj … howeverif she continued on this case there would never be acceptance on this case,” Irby said.

The attorney for Citizens of Leesburg, the plaintiff in the case, David Warrington presented a tweet by Biberaj, in which she shared a letter to theeditor published inLoudoun Nowthatsupported the school district’s equity work. Warrington argued that the tweet exhibited Biberaj’s personal opinions. Fight for Schools has charged that the School Board has pushed a liberal agenda on students, framing curriculum through a lens of racial inequity.

Biberaj is also the subject of a removal effort by the group Virginians for Safe Communities, of which Fight for School Executive Director Ian Prior is a board member.

Biberaj was also listed as a member of the same closed Facebook group as Barts, Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun, where members were accused of seeking to dox opponents of the school division’s racial equity work.

Irby said that she would need about a week to find a special prosecutor to take on the case before any other court dates are scheduled.

About 20 members of Fight for Schools were present in the courtroom, and they erupted in applause and hugs after Irby grantied the motion to dismiss Biberaj and adjourned the hearing.

“I feel like the judge looked at the evidence and made a decision that was right,” Loudoun parent and Fight for Schools supporter Erin Dunbar said after the hearing. “I think she’s unbiased. She’s looking at the evidence in front of her and I think she’s actually going to give us a fair trial.”

A similar recall effort in neighboring Fairfax County earlier this year was dismissed in court because a special prosecutor said that the case did not have a basis to move forward.

Prior has tweeted concerns about Biberaj’s conflict of interest in the past.

“The parents want a seat at the table. We’ve been saying we want a fair process and accountability, and I think today they got that,” Prior said.

“They said we were just a group of angry parents that would never make a difference. This proves that parents just being involved—especially in anything involving children at any level—we can make a difference, we should make a difference,” Fight for Schools supporter Carrie Michon said.

Barts was not present in court because she was preparing to participate in the School Board public hearing to appoint a new representative to the vacant Broad Run seat.

This article was updated Oct. 5 at 9:11 p.m. A previous version incorrectly reported that Ian Prior serves on the board of Stand Up Virginia. The correct group is Virginians for Safe Communities.

9 thoughts on “Barts Recall Case Advances; Commonwealth’s Attorney Disqualified

  • 2021-10-05 at 6:24 pm
    Permalink

    “In ruling that Biberaj should be removed from the case, Irby said that her ruling was a perception issue because the public might not trust Biberaj’s̶ i̶m̶p̶a̶r̶t̶i̶a̶l̶i̶t̶y̶”

    FTFY

  • 2021-10-05 at 6:50 pm
    Permalink

    I think it’s best that Buta Biberaj has been removed from the case. Now the big question: Who will be the special prosecutor? Time will tell. I admire the tenacity of Fight For Schools. I’m optimistic they’ll respect the decision ultimately rendered by Judge Irby. If the final outcome is unfavorable to them, I trust they’ll set their sights on the 2013 election.

  • 2021-10-05 at 7:38 pm
    Permalink

    It never should have gotten this far.

    Barts should have resigned for her illegal behavior and spared Loudoun County the cost of a trial.

    She is BAD for Loudoun and needs to be removed immediately.

  • 2021-10-06 at 6:26 am
    Permalink

    Should be pretty straight forward case with prior general counsel as a witness and a few prior school board members as witnesses. Did they or did they not sign an affidavit after attending the new term counseling session on how to function as a school board member under the law specifically NOT to ever be in communications contact nor discuss school related issues with more than one other school board member when not at an advertised public event or school board meeting. The case at hand does not seem to me (prior two term school board member) to fit any exceptions to this very simple rule every school board member is taught. In my opinion! 🙂

  • 2021-10-06 at 7:43 am
    Permalink

    We just need to disband the schoolboard. At least it’s happening with peaceful adults following the process of the law that exists today. Good thing there is one last alternative parents have, disbanding the government and starting over when a long train of abuses……..

  • 2021-10-06 at 10:58 am
    Permalink

    It really is appalling that Barts and other School Board members illegally met and conspired against their enemies–the parents. Further, it is a bad sign of the times when our Commonwealth’s Attorney Biberaj ignores the obvious perception of a conflict of interest. I can come to no other conclusion than that Biberaj did not recuse herself because she intended to press her thumb onto the scales of (in)justice in favor of her Democrat friends.

    I am saddened by the level of corruption that is pervasive through all levels of American government. We were better than this.

  • 2021-10-06 at 12:14 pm
    Permalink

    The Commonwealth’s Attorney put herself in this position.

    The CA is to fairly and impartially represent the citizens of Loudoun.

  • 2021-10-06 at 12:34 pm
    Permalink

    Barts did not bother to even show up and her attorney was running around the courthouse without a mask.
    Is that what is known as elected, white woman privilege?

  • 2021-10-06 at 12:36 pm
    Permalink

    A little history for the readers. Jeannette Irby was the Town Attorney in Leesburg prior to becoming a judge and she was very non partisan in her dealings with us. She may have had Republican leanings, but she was not partisan at all, like her successor. I had an interesting run in with Beth Barts when I was seeking a return to the Town Council in 2016. I was door knocking on her cul-de-sac and she had signs for Democrat candidates, but said she wanted one of mine. I fell for the old trick and gave her one — a number of Democrats in Leesburg do this to take the sign and then throw it out. In the succeeding weeks, she and her husband were lobbing hand grenades at me on my “Ken Reid for Leesburg VA” facebook page (not my personal page). There were constant attacks on whether I really supported the public schools, and even bringing my children into it. She worked for the public schools at the time. Watching this grass roots effort to get her out of office pleases me to no end. Tom Marshall, who preceded her, was a staunch Democrat but kept his politics out of the School Board meetings. There should be no place for savage partisans like Beth Barts in local government, especially on a School Board.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: