Unlawful assembly? Arrests in Northern Virginia school board meeting after parents erupt over CRT

How does a public comment period at a school board turn into an unlawful assembly, and then into an ugly scrum? The Loudoun County school board apparently got tired of getting lectured over critical race theory by angry parents, who already were upset over the suspension of a teacher from a previous public-comment session. The school superintendent suddenly declared the meeting closed and told police to start arresting people who refused to leave, and … we have this great moment in woke representative government.

The parents called Loudoun County Public Schools “the wokest and worst school board in America.” Not sure about the wokest, but it appears in contention for the worst:

Two parents in Loudoun County, Virginia, both of whom were present at what became a raucous school board meeting in Ashburn on Tuesday, told “The Ingraham Angle” that the far-left members must be reined in as they continue unabated in their quest to institute critical race theory into their children’s curriculum.

Ian Prior and Amy Jahr told host Laura Ingraham that after less than half of those who registered to offer public comment spoke, the superintendent put local police in a “tough spot” by declaring an “unlawful assembly” – a call that later led to emotional parents to be arrested.

Jahr said that after former State Sen. Dick Black, R-Prince William/Loudoun, had offered his own public remarks amid cheers from parents.

Let’s get a little background on this eruption, which didn’t happen in a vacuum. The LCPS board tried to boot PE teacher Byron Tanner Cross  four weeks ago for his remarks in an LCPS board public comment session last month. In response to a drafted policy change under consideration at LCPS to demand that teachers respect pronoun choices of individual students, Cross declared his opposition to such a policy on the basis of his religious beliefs:

The comments Cross made in prepared remarks to the school board lasted less than a minute.

“We condemn school policies like 8040 and 8035 because it would damage children and defile the holy image of God,” Cross said. “I love all of my students, but I would never lie to them, regardless of the consequences. I am a teacher, but I serve God first, and I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl, and vice versa, because it is against my religion, it’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child and it’s sinning against our God.”

Cross’ attorney, Tyson Langhofer, said his client went to work at the school the next day and everything seemed fine, until he was given a letter that said he was suspended.

“The only thing that they’ve told him in the letter they provided him was that he is being investigated for actions that disturbed the educational activities at Leesburg Elementary,” Lanhofer said.

Bear in mind that this took place at a public comment session — whose explicit purpose is to hear points of view from the community on proposed regulation and policy. Two weeks ago, a state court enjoined LCPS from its actions against Cross, rebuking them for infringing on Cross’ right to free speech and religious expression:

A Virginia teacher must be reinstated from leave after telling the school board he wouldn’t address transgender students by their pronouns, a judge ruled.

The Virginia 20th Judicial District Court granted Tanner Cross’ request for a temporary injunction, saying the school district must allow him to return to his position and stop banning him from Loudoun County Public Schools property.

Judge James E. Plowman Jr. wrote that he granted the injunction because Cross’ rights to speech and religious liberty are central to the case.

Shortly thereafter, LCPS announced that it would appeal Plowman’s decision. That set the stage for their very next public session, which took place last night … and we see how that went. Parents and residents within LCPS are angry over the “woke” turn of the school board and its abuses. With this context in mind, this looks much more like a pattern of abuse of authority. The LCPS has acted as though it serves itself, not the community, and very much as though regulations on public comments don’t apply to it, let alone the Constitution of the United States.

In that sense, it’s not even about critical race theory or transgender pronouns. This conflict is about the definition of representative governance in local school systems, the First Amendment, and abuses of authority. Its eventual resolution will show whether accountability actually exists for politicians in Northern Virginia, and perhaps in many other places as well.

Speaking of which, accountability takes more than one form. If conservatives get smart and start organizing for school choice in Loudoun County and Virginia as a whole, that could bring an entirely different kind of accountability to the LCPS as students drain out of its system.