Youngkin Seeks to Force Whole Loudoun County School Board to Run Again in November

Governor Glenn Youngkin wants the whole Loudoun County School Board (LCSB) to run for re-election this year instead of just two of its members, and has amended a bill from Delegate David Reid (D-Loudoun) to make that happen.

“The last few years just absolutely signified some real challenges with the Loudoun County School Board. And so in the spirit of transparency and accountability, my amendment gives parents the ability to elect their school board. This election can reflect the will of parents, and it’s a chance with my amendment to do that right now, this November,” Youngkin said in an interview with 7 News DC.

In February, Reid told a House Education subcommittee that 2021 legislation creating staggered elections in the LCSB didn’t allow enough time to give candidates notice of if they’d be running for a two-year or four-year term to start the staggered process. HB 1138 changed from March to January 2023 the date for the drawing to determine which districts would fall under a given cycle in the 2023 LCSB elections. The bill passed out of the General Assembly with only Delegate Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun) voting against it in the subcommittee. LaRock later voted for the bill to pass out of the House.

Youngkin’s amendments will require all nine LCSB members to run again this year, and then the staggering will begin after another LCSB election in 2023, with four members running for four-year terms, and five members for two-year terms. After those terms are served, there would be biennial elections for four-year terms, alternating between the two groups.

Reid blasted the amendments in a press release: “This is another attempt by some Republicans to subvert our democracy and hold it hostage to a right-wing minority. The members of the Loudoun County School Board were elected to serve four-year terms and they should be allowed to serve the full duration of their terms – that’s why we have scheduled elections.”

The General Assembly must vote on Youngkin’s amendments before they become law, but the Senate, controlled by Democrats, is unlikely to approve the amendments.

Several members of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors (BOS) criticized the amendment in a press release.

“This act, completed at midnight, is another attempt by Governor Youngkin to subvert our democracy,” Supervisors Phyllis Randall, Koran Saines, Kristen Umstatted, Michael Turner, Sylvia Glass, and Juli Briskman wrote.

PAC Loudoun4All said in a press release, “This is part of an ongoing, multi-year campaign to override free and fair elections. From stalled recall efforts, to sham pre-determined investigations that have yet to turn up any wrongdoing, as well as a fear campaign that threatened and attacked our elected officials, which led to one School Board member’s resignation due to physical threats against that official and her family, Loudoun’s children deserve better than this.”

Fight for Schools PAC, which has been leading efforts to recall LCSB members, praised the amendment. In a press release, the PAC’s President Ian Prior said, “For the past two years, the Loudoun County School Board has run our schools as if it had divine right. They have allowed outside, special interests to call the shots and the will of the people in Loudoun County has been ignored over and over again. Allowing school board elections THIS year will give everyone the opportunity to choose what kind of school board they want – more of the same anti-democratic rule, or a citizen board that is responsive to the will of the people in Loudoun County.”

Tenth District GOP Chairman Geary Higgins, a former member of both the LCSB and the BOS, said requiring the whole school board to run again in November will likely help conservatives gain more seats on the board. Higgins is overseeing the GOP’s efforts to unseat Representative Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10), and thinks the political environment is favorable for Republicans both at that level and at the school board level.

“I would think that they [2022 LCSB elections] would help Republicans get more seats on the board given the current climate, particularly with education, and education in Loudoun County,” he told The Virginia Star, noting that conservatives held a majority on that board until a few years ago.

“Given the intransigence of this board I think it’s a good thing, because they’re just not being transparent and responding to the parents,” he said, later adding, “I was on the school board, I was on the board of supervisors, I’ve never seen such arrogance in my life, and so it’s time for change.”

In 2021 one school board member resigned, and another died. The school board elected replacements to fill the positions until the end of 2022, with elections scheduled for just those two seats in November. The other seven members are up for election in November 2023. Geary said that Andrew Hoyler, one of the two new members, appears to potentially be a third conservative, joining Chair Jeff Morse and John Beatty, although the seats are technically all nonpartisan.

In a press release, Hoyler criticized Youngkin’s amendments: “We have legal procedures in place to remove elected officials for a number of reasons. These procedures are done through the judicial system, not the executive and legislative branches, and I do not support any attempt to circumnavigate the processes that are already present.”

Hoyler said, “If the desire is to take the recall power away from the judicial system, there are other ways to do so through legislative action.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Loudoun Schools” by Loudoun County Schools.




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