Beth Barts, a prominent left-wing member of the Loudoun County School Board, abruptly announced Friday that she was stepping down from her position.
The development comes as the Loudoun County School Board faces intense criticism over its handling of two sexual assault cases. The school board has also generated national attention in recent months as parents fight back against COVID-19 policies, transgender issues, and controversial lessons about race.
What did Barts say?
Barts announced her resignation through her Facebook page Friday afternoon.
"This was not an easy decision or a decision made in haste. After much thought and careful consideration, it is the right decision for me and my family," Barts wrote.
Barts added that she is "grateful to have had a role in empowering students" and is "especially proud to have participated in helping steer the Loudoun County School System through the uncharted waters of educating students throughout a global pandemic."
Barts said her resignation will be effective Nov. 2.
What is the background?
Barts was elected to the school board in November 2019, meaning she served almost half of the four-year term. Despite school board elections being nonpartisan, Barts had received support from the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.
Barts' tenure was controversial, and she had faced censure from other board members. The Washington Post explained:
The board voted first to reprimand, then to formally censure Barts — and finally to remove her from school committees — for violating school board rules during some of her interactions with county residents and through her posts on social media. Other board members called her behavior inflammatory.
In a school board document from early this year, chair Sheridan wrote that Barts "fail[ed] to put student interest first" and "to show respect for fellow board members."
As the Post further noted, Barts' resignation came "shortly before she was due to face a trial in the recall campaign against her."
Barts, in fact, found herself at the center of a recall effort that sought to remove several school board members over their membership in an online group that tracked parents who opposed the inclusion of critical race theory in school curriculum and parents who supported in-person learning.
Ian Prior, the executive director of Fight for Schools — the group leading the recall effort — praised Barts' resignation.
"This could not have been an easy decision for Ms. Barts. We have made known our displeasure with her actions as a school board member over the past several months, but today she has done the right thing," Prior said in a statement. "Her former colleagues should take notice."
"The community should know, however, that the problems at Loudoun County Public Schools and on the school board go well beyond one school board member. We will continue to shine a light on Loudoun County Public Schools and will keep fighting until we have a school board of common sense, non-partisan members and a superintendent who is accountable to parents and tells the truth," Prior added.