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D.C.-area school district backtracks on punishing teachers for criticizing critical race theory

Claims the proposed policy doesn’t mean what it says

The richest counties in America are coincidentally clustered around Washington, D.C. This privilege gives them confidence to propose flatly unconstitutional policies, such as banning public school teachers from criticizing critical race theory.

Perhaps less confidence this week, however.

Loudoun County Public Schools is pulling back on an illegal proposal to revise “professional conduct” standards by banning teachers from criticizing its “commitment to action-oriented equity practices” anywhere – on campus, off campus, over the phone, email and social media. It would have also required teachers to report their colleagues for such criticism.

The Washington Free Beacon, which broke the news of the draft speech code last week, reports that the district’s largest teachers union told it a school board member is taking the speech policy off the agenda for the next board meeting on Tuesday. The Loudoun Educators Association also opposed the plan as an infringement on its members’ rights.

School board administrators and human resources portrayed the controversy as one big misunderstanding in a Monday meeting with LSA President Sandy Sullivan, she said:

After the meeting, Sullivan said the policy’s planned implementation appears to be less rigid than what the text of the policy indicates, though she feels strongly that the language should be revised to accurately portray the district’s expectations.

“Going through a conversation with [the school board], it sounded like the policy seems not as harsh as it was at first reading,” Sullivan said. “It needs to be clear that people shouldn’t have to ask questions to understand what the policy means. Employees should be able to pick up the policy and read it and understand what the expectations are.”

MORE: Loudoun wants to punish teachers for criticizing CRT – anywhere

Parents are still worried that the district will continue to foist CRT-inspired requirements on students and teachers.

The district has spent more than $400,000 in two years on “equity training” that characterizes America as irredeemably racist, and it’s collaborating on a “social justice” curriculum with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which characterizes conservative Christian organizations as “hate groups.”

“The board and the superintendent have already passed this ‘Comprehensive Racial Equity’ plan unanimously,” said Scott Mineo, who runs Parents Against Critical Theory. “Even if this proposal to punish teachers fails, I don’t think for a minute that they don’t have something else radical and unconstitutional up their sleeves.”

Former Department of Education lawyer Hans Bader has called the plan “vague, viewpoint-discriminatory,” unconstitutional and in violation of civil rights laws, citing a long string of case law. He notes the proposed policy also targets speech about religion, pregnancy and sexual orientation:

So if a religious teacher, in her own home, criticizes someone for being a devil-worshipper, or for an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, or entering into a same-sex marriage, that could violate the rule. Punishing such expression could violate Virginia religious-freedom laws.

Investigative journalist Chris Rufo previously offered legal representation for teachers who want to challenge the policy, should it be approved.

Read the report.

MORE: This is what antiracism and CRT look like

IMAGE: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.