Several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests reveal Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) reliance on material from Black Lives Matter (BLM) and other similar organizations.
One parent issued a FOIA request to LCPS Public Information Officer Wayde Byard. Specifically, the FOIA request concerned any LCPS collaboration with the Southern Poverty Law Center and BLM.
In his response email, Byard asserted that LCPS hasn’t collaborated with either organization. He added that LCPS hasn’t used either organization to create a specific “social justice curriculum” or their pending “Comprehensive Equity Plan.” Instead, Byard stated that LCPS paid $422,500 for a contract with the Equity Collaborative, which he said “assisted in developing a framework for culturally responsive instruction.”
The Equity Collaborative states that its sole purpose is to “create educational equity and social justice by addressing bias and oppression.” Additionally, the collaborative assisted in gathering resources for LCPS’s “Equity Overview” webpage as a means of advancing the school system’s dedication to equity, as verbalized by LCPS Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams.
“LCPS calls for all students, staff, families, and other members of our community to engage in the disruption and dismantling of white supremacy, systemic racism, and hateful language and actions based on race, religion, country of origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, and/or ability.”
One of the resources listed is a publication from an initiative called “Teaching Tolerance.” This is a project by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Another resource is the “Racial Equity Tools,” which promotes material from BLM and one of its founder’s efforts to defund the police in “The Breathe Act.”
These resources aren’t just accessible to parents and teachers – LCPS encourages students to access them as well.
Another FOIA request produced a presentation training that LCPS required of every “Equity Leads.” LCPS’s Equity Leads oversee “the work of the school through an equity lens to ensure a climate that is equitable for each student.” LCPS’s budget recently increased for “equity” personnel by $2.1 million.
In their training, LCPS requires Equity Leads to ensure schools comply with “cultural responsiveness,” which is a “recognition of culture as an integral element of the environment.”
LCPS states that application of cultural responsiveness will “create and guide support of student-centered learning environments with a critical focus on culturally and linguistically diverse students that have been marginalized by inequitable systems.”
Critical race theory (CRT) proposes that economic, legal, and social institutions are inherently racist. In its context within the United States, CRT purports a reality of “systemic racism” that oppresses Black individuals and uplifts White individuals.
In the training, Equity Leads were also told to measure social competence and academic achievement by cultural equity. The equity division of LCPS also issued an apology earlier this year to the Black community for its history of segregation.
In an interview with The Virginia Star, LCPS parent and founder of “Parents Against Critical Theory” (PACT) Scott Mineo explained that these initiatives and resources offered by LCPS conflict with Byard’s response to the FOIA.
“The bigger story here isn’t the equity plan that’s been shared with all the parents and schools. It’s the information behind the details of what all this means.”