The petition documents some of Barts’s recent conflicts with other school board members, including the board’s votes to reprimand, then formally censure Barts and finally to remove her from school committees for violating board policy through her use of social media and through her interactions with county residents, actions that other board members concluded were inflammatory. In a school board document from early 2020, board chair Brenda Sheridan wrote that Barts had “fail[ed] to put student interest first” and “to show respect for fellow board members and staff in a spirit of harmony and cooperation.”
Barts did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Loudoun County Public Schools spokesman Wayde Byard wrote in a statement that, “since this involves an elected official, not an LCPS employee, and pending litigation, LCPS will have no comment.”
Former Trump administration official and Loudoun parent Ian Prior founded Fight for Schools to seek the recall of several Loudoun school board members over what the group claims is their violation of state policies regarding open meetings. Fight for Schools is also gathering signatures on petitions seeking the removal of board members Sheridan, Denise Corbo, Ian Serotkin, Atoosa Reaser and Leslee King.
Barts “has shown a complete inability to comply with the law, her own code of conduct, and the basic decency that accompanies being an elected official in the United States of America,” Prior said in a statement.
Beyond the recall campaign, Fight for Schools is well known in Loudoun — which has fast become the face of the nation’s culture wars — for its activism against the school system’s racial equity work. Loudoun recently undertook social justice initiatives, such as holding anti-bias training for teachers, after two high-profile reports found evidence of widespread racism in the school system of 81,000.
Prior and Fight for Schools allege that the racial equity programming amounts to Loudoun’s adoption and dissemination of critical race theory, a decades-old academic framework that holds racism is systemic in the United States. Loudoun school officials have repeatedly denied they are using or teaching critical race theory.
The effort to remove Barts in Loudoun comes shortly after parents in neighboring Fairfax County unsuccessfully sought to recall a school board member, Elaine Tholen, over her handling of school closures during the pandemic. A Fairfax County judge dismissed that petition last week after Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney James Hingeley intervened to ask for its dismissal, asserting that the allegations against Tholen were untrue.
In the Loudoun petition, Fight for Schools parents specifically requested that Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj be recused from representing petitioners, as state law would dictate. The petitioners wrote that Biberaj has a “disqualifying conflict of interest” because of “her personal friendship” with Barts. Biberaj did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
In a statement, Prior denounced Hingeley’s move to dismiss the petition in Fairfax.
“That must not happen here,” he said. “It is . . . imperative that the court appoint an independent prosecutor to handle this case.”
The parents who filed the petition also requested anonymity throughout the recall proceedings, citing in part the “volatile political environment that currently exists in Loudoun County.”