Lawsuits Pile Up in Loudoun County Battle Between School and Activists


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. “

LCPS Public Information Officer Wayde Byard said he couldn’t comment on the litigation, but he said anybody could be an equity ambassador. The qualifications in the packet don’t list race as a requirement, although an earlier draft was targeted at students of Color.

The LJC press release states, “Only ‘students of color’ or those who expressly attest to being ‘allies’ are eligible for participation in the Equity Ambassadors Program. The program is paired with a ‘Bias Reporting System,essentially converting students into the speech police, with the power to name and shame peers for expressing viewpoints inconsistent with extreme racial political ideology.”

The plaintiffs argue that the program is a violation of constitutional guarantees of free speech and equality before the law. They want the court to call the Student Equity Ambassador program discriminatory and to enjoin the school board from operating the program and the bias reporting system. They’re also seeking damages and attorneys’ fees.

Other Lawsuits

The case is the second to be announced against the school board this week. On Tuesday, the Alliance Defending Freedom announced that it was representing Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) teacher Tanner Cross who was placed on leave after saying he would not use students’ preferred pronouns in a public hearing last week.

On May 25, The Virginia Project, founded by David Gordon, announced a lawsuit against Jamie Neidig-Wheaton, one of the moderators of Facebook group “Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County” (ARPLC).

In March, The Virginia Project (TVP) called attention to a post in the group allegedly calling for volunteers to combat PACT and similar groups.

“We put new cameras around our house,” Menders told NBC. “My husband has more guns and more ammunition — we don’t know what’s going to tick someone off to want to come after us.”

TVP threatened legal action, calling the group “left-wing ‘Critical Race Theory’ domestic terrorists.”

The lawsuit seeks $500,000 in damages over alleged defamation by Neidig-Wheaton. The lawsuit alleges, “During the above referenced March 18, 2021 livestream podcast, the Defendant publicly accused TVP of encouraging or ‘spurring’ unnamed people to threaten the Defendant, other members of ARPLC, and their children.

“What I said was true,” Neidig-Wheaton told The Virginia Star.

On and before March 18, 2021, and at all times relevant to this lawsuit, no officer or employee of TVP asked, encouraged, or directed anyone to threaten, intimidate, or harm the Defendant, any children or relative of Defendant, Defendant’s job or Defendant’s business, or any member of ARPLC,” TVP’s lawsuit states.

TVP has used terms like “domestic terrorists” and “death penalty” to refer to the actions of the Facebook group. On March 25, TVP tweeted that a post of theirs featuring Neidig-Wheaton’s address had been removed.

Twitter got all snippy about this so the address is removed even though this is a public document,” TVP tweeted.

On Tuesday, NBC reported, “Neidig-Wheaton said she no longer feels safe in Loudoun County because of the threats she’s received, and she plans to move across the country.”

“Having my address shared is really frightening but I think it also speaks to the broader problem of how this is turning people on their neighbors,” Neidig-Wheaton told NBC.

TVP is only seeking damages and no injunction. Lawyer Phil Bradfield told The Star in an email, “The plaintiff, The VA Project, has not asked for an injunction because there don’t appear to be any ongoing defamatory comments from the defendant, based on what we can see at this point.”

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







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