PARENTS PREVAIL IN FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT CASE AGAINST LOUDOUN SCHOOLS
WhitbeckBennett Attorney Kevin McCandlish and Joshua Hetzler of the Founding Freedoms Law Center represent Plantiffs.
LEESBURG, VA, – MAY 2, 2022 –A Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge ruled on Friday, April 29, 2022, that the Loudoun County School Board violated Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 2021.
Specifically, the Honorable Judge James Plowman ruled that the School Board violated Virginia law when it ended public comment and cleared public attendees from the premises and thereafter continued to conduct official business on June 22, 2021. The meeting previously gained national attention due to the controversial policies discussed at the meeting and the impassioned public comments by parents and citizens in response to these policies.
Kevin McCandlish of WhitbeckBennett, PLLC, and Joshua Hetzler of the Founding Freedoms Law Center litigated the case on behalf of Plaintiffs Megan Clegg, Megan Rafalski, and Adam Rafalski, all of whom are parents in Loudoun County with children in Loudoun County Public Schools. The Court found no exigent circumstances or exceptions applied to mitigate the School Board’s violation of the Freedom of Information Act at the meeting and that ending public comment and clearing the room violated Virginia’s FOIA statute.
On June 22, 2021, Ms. Clegg signed up to speak during the public comment section of the School Board meeting with her daughter but was denied the opportunity to speak when the School Board walked off the dais, not returning until hours after public attendees were told to leave the premises. Mr. and Mrs. Rafalski were signed up to speak during the public comment section of subsequent School Board meetings, at which the School Board modified its public comments procedure.
The Plaintiff’s petition sought, among other things, a determination that the Loudoun County School Board violated Virginia’s FOIA statute on June 22, 2021, and at subsequent meetings. The Court found that the School Board violated the public meeting requirement of Virginia’s FOIA statute, the Plaintiffs had substantially prevailed, and were entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees.
Lead attorney on the case Kevin McCandlish stated, “we are pleased with the Circuit Court’s decision and applaud our clients for their determination in seeing this case through.” He went on to say, “This lawsuit was about ensuring Loudoun County parents have the opportunity to be present when decisions affecting their children and families are made by their local government.”
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