Conservatives seeking information about a Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) alleged sexual assault coverup, among other things, have flooded the school division with over 500 Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA) requests, according to Loudoun Now.
From 2012 to 2018, the outlet said, the average yearly number of VFOIA requests was about 90.
Approximately 40 percent of the requests — made by “a half-dozen individuals” — have been filed by members or allies of Fight for Schools, a Loudoun-based education advocacy organization which has been behind several efforts to recall school board members.
Loudoun County schools have been a hotbed of political activity this year, as parents realized the district was teaching the tenets of the race-essentialist indoctrination scheme called critical race theory and appears to have covered up at least two instances of sexual assault in an effort to pass a sweeping transgender policy allowing males to use female bathrooms and play against females in sports.
As Breitbart News reported, the alleged sexual assault coverup resulted in the resignation of one school board member and an apology from Superintendent Scott Ziegler, saying, “I am sorry that we failed to provide the safe, welcoming, and affirming environment that we aspire to provide.”
According to LCPS Public Information Officer Wayde Byard, the district has had to double the number of officials who process VFOIA requests and “has begun billing VFIOA requesters because it cannot handle the current volume free of charge.”
As Breitbart News reported, one VFOIA requester was billed more than $36,000. Loudoun County mother Michelle Mege had “asked for ‘all communications, including press releases, statements, emails, or other correspondence in any format within the LCPS possession’ that use the words ‘sexual assault’ or ‘rape’ between May 1 and Oct. 18, 2021.”
Byard explained his calculation at the time, saying that there were over 100,000 “potential documents” at an hourly retrieval rate of $72.15, but that the real cost came from the 500 estimated hours it would take to review all the documents for potential redactions, among other things.
Virginia Attorney General elect Jason Miyares (R) vowed to investigate LCPS over the sexual assault issue.
Other VFOIA requesters include Fight for Schools Executive Director Ian Prior, Parents Against Critical Race Theory head Scott Mineo, and Elicia Brand, spokeswoman for Scott Smith and his family. Smith’s daughter was the victim of an aforementioned sexual assault at school.
According to Loudoun Now, state Del. Danica Roem (D) has introduced a bill to the General Assembly that would cap VFOIA request hourly rates at $33, saying that, acting against the interests of a VFOIA requester, “the current system overwhelmingly defaults to the side of the custodians and I’m working to bring the pendulum to the center so we have actual balance.”
But Roem’s bill has met with opposition from local governments, who fear a more accessible FOIA system might encourage harassment in the form of an increase in the volume of requests.
Virginia Coalition for Open Government Executive Director Megan Rhyne, however, said “you can’t just say harassment is sheer volume because there are things that happen in state and local government that are going to happen that have intense public interest and with that public interest will come an increase in VFOIA filings.”
As Breitbart News reported, LCPS has seen a “mass exodus” of students, potentially costing the district around $7 million in state funding.
Breccan F. Thies is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @BreccanFThies.