Editor: Tonight, the Loudoun County School Board will select a candidate to serve as the School Board representative for the Leesburg District, filling the seat vacated by Beth Barts. This is the second time the School Board will have to do this in just a few months.
In October, the School Board selected Andrew Hoyler to represent the Broad Run District after the sitting member, Leslee King, passed away. But if the process to select Hoyler is any indicator of how tonight’s vote will go, we can expect party politics and ambition for leadership positions to play a pivotal role.
After a motion was made to select Andrew Hoyler, Atoosa Reaser, the Algonkian District representative, offered an amendment to recommend another candidate be chosen. Ms. Reaser knew the motion would fail. While all decisions are made in public meetings, the School Board convenes a closed session to discuss the merits of candidates prior to the vote.
And, as a former School Board member who participated in the process to select Chris Croll for a vacant seat in 2018, I know the board members know where the votes are before taking the dais. So, Ms. Reaser knew her motion would fail. She made it anyway. She made sure the Loudoun County Democrat Committee knew she did what she could for their preferred candidate.
While the final vote for Mr. Hoyler was unanimous, the message that not everyone wanted him on the board was loud and clear. It was not a great way to create a positive and collaborative working relationship with a new colleague.
This stands in stark contrast to the selection of Chris Croll. Board members favored different candidates going into the final vote then, too, but the discussion focused on who the board could work well with on the shared goal of providing an excellent education to LCPS students.
And, it was important to that board that the vote actually be unanimous, to actually welcome a new colleague in the important work of representing our school communities. It wasn’t about party politics or fear of an LCDC censure. It wasn’t about who will vote for whom to be chair or opposing remote participation to effect an outcome.
Unfortunately, though, it seems those are the primary issues at play in the vote tonight. It’s party politics over the best interest of students—again. And that is simply wrong.
Debbie Rose, Lowes Island
[The writer was the Algonkian District representative on the School Board from 2012 to 2019.]