Legislative Updates – Pray for America's Leaders

Legislative Updates

Virginia | June 21, 2021

Petitions to recall school board members gain support

Virginia | June 21, 2021

The Open FCPS Coalition began a recall effort for three Fairfax County School Board members in October of 2020. At large member Abrar Omeish along with Dranesville District Representative Elaine Tholen and Springfield District Representative Laura Cohen are the members on which that effort focuses.

The issues with the school board members arose during the pandemic when children were not allowed to be in the classroom full time. “Last fall, when COVID was a serious concern, the school board sent out a survey asking if parents wanted their kids to be virtual or in person for class,” said Open FCPS Coalition member Saundra Davis. “Fifty percent of parents said yes we want our children back in person. And then the school board said they would be doing all virtual learning. They ignored the science and the feedback.”

The Open FCPS Coalition is a non-partisan group of parents who wanted their children to be in person for the school year of 2020 to 2021. And when the school board did not listen to their concerns, they decided to take action. “These school board members are using their position as a steppingstone for their career. They did everything but open the schools, they were not putting the kids first,” Davis said. “These board members are not qualified or performing for the kids. They are leading in fear.”

The petitions which the Open FCPS Coalition started have garnered many signatures over the last several months. Their petition to remove Dranesville District representative Tholen is less than 500 signatures away from being complete. Springfield representative Laura Cohen’s petition is more than two thirds of the way of being complete. Once the petitions have enough signatures, the case will be evaluated by a judge. “The way they handled opening the schools was not what we wanted and that is why we want them removed. Not for other reasons,” Davis explained. ..

(Excerpts from the Fairfax County Times)

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Virginia | June 10, 2021

121 People Register to Speak at Loudoun County School Board Meeting

Virginia | June 10, 2021

The public comment period at Tuesday’s Loudoun County Public School (LCPS) Board meeting lasted about three hours after 121 people registered to speak. Several factors contributed to the high participation, according to LCPS citizen reporter Julie Sisson.

“It was insane,” Sisson said. “A combination of the first in-person audience in over a year, the fact that LCPS suspended Tanner Cross after the last one and the court ruling in his favor had come out earlier that day, last meeting of the school year, and the SB was supposed to discuss Policy 8040 (rights of transgender students) but they pushed it back to Committee.”

LCPS has become the focus of conservative activism over equity initiatives, fears of Critical Race Theory (CRT), and a draft policy for how the district will handle transgender students. In a previous public hearing, Cross said he would not use students’ preferred pronouns, leading to his suspension. Sisson said some people, mostly in favor, spoke about the transgender policy, but most of the comments were about Tanner Cross, constitutional rights, and equity initiatives.

LCPS River Bend Middle School 7th Grade Dean Melissa Dober said in the public comment period, “I am here to stand with Tanner Cross in defense of his first amendment rights. Like Tanner, when staff members are hired we do not surrender our rights under conditions of employment.”

She continued, “In the culturally responsive framework, equity training, and Policy 8040, it states we are to affirm students struggling with gender identity. This goes against my first amendment rights since it is against the truth of what I believe as a Christian and as a former science teacher. ”..

(Excerpts from The Virginia Star)

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Virginia | June 9, 2021

Virginia school board meeting explodes as members face backlash for suspension of Tanner Cross

Virginia | June 9, 2021

Virginia teacher Byron “Tanner” Cross saw an outpouring of support Tuesday as public commenters blasted a school system’s decision to suspend him after his now-viral comments about gender.

The dramatic meeting of the Loudon County Public Schools’ board was full of mic- drop moments and testy confrontations over issues plaguing the school district. Many public commenters either backed Cross or criticized the school board over critical race theory (CRT).

“Where is your regard for our freedom of speech?” asked parent Rachel Pisani, who said she was a mother of three in Loudoun County. “When I saw a teacher express an opinion and suspended for expressing his religious beliefs, I could no longer stay silent. When did it become acceptable to be tolerant only when someone expresses a view that we agree with? When did it become appropriate to silence those that hold Christian, biblical views just because you don’t? When did it become appropriate to allow the school board – I don’t know who you think you are – but it is not appropriate, it is not allowable to silence, bully, or dismiss our views.”  …

(Excerpts from Fox News)

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Virginia | June 9, 2021

Court Approves Emergency Injunction Reinstating Tanner Cross in Loudoun School Board Lawsuit

Virginia | June 9, 2021

On Friday, the case had a lengthy hearing in the court where the defendants asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit; Cross’ team asked the court to issue a temporary injunction to allow him to return to work while the case proceeds.

Cross was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who argued that he was retaliating against after exercising his rights to free speech. The LCPS defense argued that Cross’ speech at the meeting was disruptive, citing six emails from five families asking that Cross not teach their students. In the decision, Judge James Plowman said the magnitude of parental complaints was minimal given an approximate Leesburg Elementary School size of 400-500 students. Plowman also said that Cross’ lawsuit is likely to succeed based on arguments that his suspension was retaliatory and violated Cross’ First Amendment rights….

(Excerpts from the Virginia Star)

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Virginia | June 4, 2021

Suspended Teacher Who Objected to Referring to Students by Preferred Pronouns Sues District

Virginia | June 4, 2021

A Virginia public-school teacher who was placed on paid administrative leave after objecting to the district’s proposed transgender policy has sued the district, the Loudon Times-Mirror reported.

Byron “Tanner” Cross, a physical-education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, objected at a school-board meeting last week to a proposed policy that would require teachers to refer to students by their preferred gender pronouns. The lawsuit filed Tuesday by Cross’s attorneys alleges the suspension violated his right to free speech.

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Virginia | June 3, 2021

Lawsuits Pile Up in Loudoun County Battle Between School and Activists

Virginia | June 3, 2021

The Loudoun County School Board is being sued over its Equity Ambassador program. Scott Mineo, founder of activist organization Parents Against Critical Theory (PACT), has said the program is discriminatory. Now, Mineo, Loudoun County Republican Women’s Club President Patti Menders, and several anonymous plaintiffs are suing the school board.

“Loudoun County’s policies are extreme and divisive. Every student has a right to express his or her views and to engage in a respectful, robust conversation about real issues without fear of retribution,” Liberty Justice Center Senior Attorney Daniel Suhr said in a press release Wednesday.

Equity Ambassadors are part of the Loudoun County Public School’s Action Plan to Combat Systemic Racism. Each school selects two to three student leaders to meet several times a year.

“Stories and experiences will be reviewed and shared by the Supervisor of Equity and ​Student Equity Ambassadors ​during regularly occurring student ​Share, Speak-up, Speak-out ​meetings,” a Student Equity Ambassador Packet states. “The student leaders will be responsible for amplifying the voice of Students of Color by engaging in discussions about student stories/experiences regarding issues of racism, injustice and inequity.

The lawsuit states, “In the name of ‘dismantling systemic racism,‘ LCPS has implemented explicit racial distinctions between its students. The official LCPS ‘Action Plan to Combat Systemic Racism’ creates a new position of ‘Student Equity Ambassador’ (‘SEA’), which is limited to certain students on account of their race, and discriminates against students on the basis of their viewpoint. “…

(Excerpts from The Virginia Star)

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