A group of current and former teachers and others in Loudoun County, Virginia compiled a lengthy list of parents suspected of disagreeing with school system actions, including its teaching of controversial racial concepts — with a stated purpose in part to “infiltrate,” to use “hackers” to silence parents’ communications, and to “expose these people publicly.”
Members of a 624-member private Facebook group called “Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County” named parents and plotted fundraising and other offline work. Some used pseudonyms, but The Daily Wire has identified them as a who’s who of the affluent jurisdiction outside D.C., including schools staff and elected officials.
The sheriff’s criminal investigations division is reviewing the matter — but the group’s activities might be no surprise to top law enforcement because the county’s prosecutor, narrowly elected with the help of $845,000 in cash from George Soros, appears to be a member of the Facebook group.
Secret communications reviewed by The Daily Wire do not offer any evidence of racism by the group’s targets, or even attempt to. Their opponents were apparently those who objected to, sought to debate, or were even simply “neutral” about “critical race theory,” a radical philosophy opposed by many liberals and conservatives but increasingly embraced by governments.
In recent years, Loudoun’s school system has flooded its curricula and policies with racial rhetoric, paying about $500,000 to one racial consulting company alone. It required all staff to undergo “Equity in the Center” training that promoted a sense of injustice and urgency.
The school system proposed, then withdrew, a policy that would ban teachers from disagreeing with the schools’ racial philosophies, even when not on school district property. In January 2020, the school board’s Equity Committee voted unanimously to “Offer/Provide Equity in the Center-like training to parents.”
Now, as school-backed efforts to change the thinking of adults seemingly succeeded, the community has collapsed into acrimony, a criminal review has been opened, and a school board member has been stripped of her duties.
What follows is the story of the wealthiest county in America descending into a moral panic as a group of suburban white women egged each other to extremes against perceived “evil,” while a school system seemed to slide from serving taxpayers to targeting them.
“Avoiding these people isn’t enough to stop the spread of their evil rhetoric”
The late-stage result of an experiment in saturating children’s education systems with the language of torrid oppression looks a lot like Beth Barts, a white, 50-year old former educator who was elected to the school board in 2019.
Barts has a reputation for lashing out at parents who either questioned what she calls the “equity” agenda or advocated for the reopening of schools. For her pattern of social media conduct, Barts’ colleagues censured her in a closed meeting on March 4, saying Barts failed to “welcome and encourage active cooperation of Loudoun County residents,” the Loudoun Times reported. On March 9, the board temporarily removed her from all committee assignments.
Barts deleted her Twitter account, but the events appeared to trigger more erratic behavior on the private Facebook group, with Barts rallying a crew who were convinced that Loudoun’s other school board members, mostly Democrats supportive of “equity” efforts, were insufficiently aggressive in pursuit of their stated racial aims.
At the same time, other parents who believed that causing young children to focus too much on race could diminish tolerance and harmony, rather than improve it, were gaining traction. Groups called the Virginia Project and Parents Against Critical Theory held a webinar called “What is CRT and its impact on Loudoun County Schools” on March 7.
“I wanted to share that I’m very concerned that the [anti-] CRT movement for lack of better word is gaining support,” Barts wrote to the “anti-racist” Facebook group March 12. She said she hoped to “call out statements and actions that undermine our stated plan to end systemic racism.”
In response, a local mother named Jen Durham began what turned into a massive thread, writing:
This is a call for volunteers to combat the anti-CRT activities of the P.A.C.T. folks, the stoplcpscrt website, and the like. Looking for folks who are interested in volunteering to organize, lead, execute, and donate regarding the following points:
- Gather information (community mailing lists, list of folks who are in charge of the anti-CRT movement, lists of local lawmakers/folks in charge)
- Infiltrate (create fake online profiles and join these groups to collect and communicate information, hackers who can either shut down their websites or redirect them to pro-CRT/anti-racist informational webpages)
- Spread information (expose these people publicly, create online petitions, create counter-mailings)
- Find a way to gather donations for these efforts. Volunteering is great, but these activities can be costly and not everyone has extra funds readily available
Anyone who is interested in this, please feel free to comment here or PM me directly and indicate what you can help with. Then we can hold a kickoff call and start on action items.
“I’m listing them this way: -First name -Last name -Alias(es) -Location,” Durham wrote.
“I’m losing any hope that remaining civil towards these people changes anything,” she wrote. “Avoiding these people isn’t enough to stop the spread of their evil rhetoric.”
“Anyone know any hackers?” she reiterated.
Members of the “Anti-Racist” group sprang into action, listing dozens of parents, often including where they lived, their employers, or their spouses’ names.
Durham, who posted under the name Jen Morse, works outside of education, for the American Society of Ophthalmic Administrators. But it was a former teacher, Hilary Hultman-Lee, who executed on the idea most prolifically.
“Regarding the anti-CRT movement, we’d like to compile a document of all known actors and supporters. Please comment below with legal names of these individuals, area of residence and or school board Rep known, known accounts on social media, and any other info that you feel is relevant,” wrote Hultman-Lee, who at one point taught Latin at Potomac Falls High School and who is listed as doing business with the school district as an education consultant.
They erred on the side of accusing the innocent. In response to one name Hultman-Lee added, another member asked, “Why is she on this list? I haven’t seen her support anti-CRT?”
Hultman-Lee responded, “I put a question mark next to her bc I’m curious about some of her comments re the Dr. Seuss nonsense and racial equity generally. Happy to remove if I’m off the mark.”
“No no, I wouldn’t go so far as to take her off. However, from what I’ve seen she is very carefully neutral,” the parent replied.
It was Loudoun County that first put Dr. Seuss in the news for deemphasizing him because of “strong racial undertones.” Hultman-Lee added a man whose evidence of guilt was a screenshot in which he said he had reviewed a Dr. Seuss book and “ask anyone to show me what is racist.”
Barts cheered them on. “Thank you for the response to my posting this morning,” she wrote. “Thank you for stepping up. Silence is complicity.”
“An educator in a system of oppression is either a revolutionary or an oppressor”
Andrea Weiskopf, a teacher at River Bend & Seneca Ridge Middle School, named a father who has criticized critical race theory. The NAACP, which Weiskopf (who is white) works closely with, previously sent an “URGENT” email to school officials alerting them that the man is married to a teacher. We “are hopeful she does not share the same ideologies as her husband. Please confirm receipt of this message,” it said, according to an email obtained by The Daily Wire.
Though elected school board members control the school system, Weiskopf, a school employee, worked with the NAACP to strategize about how to manipulate board members, explaining that one member “is usually down with whatever the plan is. He needs a lot of handholding, he’s very new and very naive.”
On Twitter, Weiskopf offers the motto, “an educator in a system of oppression is either a revolutionary or an oppressor.”
As part of the school system’s racial initiatives, Loudoun pays 93 teachers $3,820 extra a year to take on additional duties as “equity leads.” For Dr. VonEnde Coleman, that appeared to mean joining the mob against parents. “As an equity lead at one of the high schools, please let me know how I can help,” she wrote.
Coleman is a high school department chair whose doctorate degree came from an online university. “Greetings! I am the Learning Specialist Department Chair at Indpendence [sic] High School,” her LCPS bio reads. “This is my seventh year with the county. I earned my undergraduate from Colorado Christian and her [sic] Master’s and Doctorate in Human Services from Capella.”
Another teacher, Dana Maier, wrote, “I’m happy to put some time into shutting down their hateful garbage.” Yet another teacher called a parent “Beetle Douche.”
One of the Facebook group’s moderators is Vanessa Maddox, a former town council member for the town of Leesburg and current member of its Diversity Commission. On February 26, she was a speaker at a Loudoun County Democratic Committee event discussing “What’s next with forward momentum in economic equality and justice for black businesses.”
Another moderator is Monica Belton. A group for black women, Mocha Moms of Loudoun County, thanked Belton in May 2020 for her role in what they called the “Occupy Schools Event,” describing her as a “Loudoun County Schools Social Worker.” Belton also provides racial consulting through a nonprofit called “RECET – Resilient Experiences for Children Exposed to Trauma.”
On April 6, she will host an event called “The Impact of Racial Trauma on Youth Online Workshop.” The description says, “Please note: This is not an opportunity to debate opposing mindsets. The operators of this forum believes, unequivocally, that BLACK LIVES MATTER and that immediate and drastic change in policy and practice is demanded.”
Members at times used seemingly violence-tinged rhetoric.
A third moderator is Jamie Ann Neidig-Wheaton, a onetime George Mason University adjunct professor. “The racists have a Go Fund Me,” she said, referring to Parents Against Critical Theory (PACT). “Burn it down.” Neidig-Wheaton sent her own child to a private prep school.
Cortney Austin Smith, a mother in Leesburg, Virginia, listed those who had questioned government officials. “Ian Prior spoke about First Amendment concerns… Austin Levine criticized the School Board,” she wrote.
She then changed her Facebook profile picture to a graphic that said “I don’t argue with people who Harriet Tubman would have shot.” Maddox, the Town of Leesburg Diversity Commission member and group moderator, replied on the photo, “Yes!!!!!”
Smith is a paralegal with Cooley LLP, a law firm that says it is taking part in a “Fight for Racial Justice.” Her husband, Dusty Smith, is a former government reporter for the local paper as well as for the Center for Public Integrity, where he wrote a story that began, “Civil War remains a reality in Loudoun County, Virginia.”
Cortney Smith, Durham, Hultman-Lee, and Neidig-Wheaton did not return requests for comment.
The mob mixed rage at parents for questioning racialized curricula and ire at those advocating for schools to be open. “Most of these names are not a surprise since they regularly post in the LCPS Open group,” one poster wrote. Levine, who Smith named, asked, “Am I on this list because I want my kids in school?”
A mother named Emily J. Morford wrote down the name of Ian Prior, a former Department of Justice official in the Trump administration, alongside Aliscia Andrews, a former Republican congressional candidate, adding, “I am happy to help. The ones I mentioned are neighbors and mouthpieces for this in my community,” Morford wrote.
Prior told The Daily Wire that he first met Morford at a Halloween party, and that Morford, who is white, later texted his wife to claim that unspecified minorities were offended by his pro-police “thin blue line” flag.
“I said ‘reasonable people can have different opinions based on their life experiences and other things, and if you want to discuss my beliefs, you know where I live.’ I didn’t expect that she would use that information to target me as part of a doxxing and hacking campaign,” he said.
List-makers noted that in October, Prior wrote an op-ed in the Federalist expressing disagreement with CRT’s tenet that “racism is present in every aspect of life, every relationship, and every interaction.”
“The best way to counter that is with an op-ed arguing ‘this is why you’re wrong,’” he told The Daily Wire.
The school system’s focus on race has “radicalized privileged white women in Virginia. It has turned them into a threat to the people in their own community,” he said. “If it happened to them, what is it like for small children?”
Prior said he believes Durham violated a Virginia law that says “Any person who commands, entreats, or otherwise attempts to persuade another person to commit a felony other than murder, shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony,” and that participants entered into a conspiracy to deprive him of his First Amendment rights.
David Gordon, director of the Virginia Project, sent screenshots to Loudoun Sheriff Mike Chapman, writing “We have been presented with evidence of open organization of criminal activity intended to infringe 1st Amendment rights. We believe one intended target of this activity is our presentation on Critical Race Theory. Please note in particular the threat to hack websites, which from firsthand experience we know is not an idle one.”
Kraig Troxell, a spokesman for the sheriff, told The Daily Wire, “The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is aware of the situation and the information has been forwarded to our criminal investigations division to review the matter.”
There is little evidence that Loudoun in the years preceding the schools’ racial focus was the site of widespread unrest of any kind. Black residents have a median income of $112,000, and the semi-rural county has precisely zero areas resembling inner cities. Blacks make up only 8% of the population, yet voters chose a black woman to chair the county board of supervisors.
To Prior, if the goal of all these school initiatives was increased peace and understanding, it didn’t seem to be working.
“They can’t see that the ‘other side’ is just people who want to cook on their grill and take their kids to soccer and enjoy the weekend and not have to worry about their neighbors trying to turn that into a political event,” he said.
The pronounced role of insiders and professionals in the “anti-racist” movement has the feel of government officials seeking to have citizens be responsive to their agenda, rather than the reverse.
According to the members list, the Facebook group appears to include school board members Denise Corbo, Leslee King, and Ian Sorotkin; commonwealth attorney Buta Bibaraj; county supervisor Juli Briskman; NAACP Loudoun branch president Michelle Thomas; and Gazal Modhera, a lawyer with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. While these individuals were listed in the group, The Daily Wire saw no evidence that they were involved in the doxxing effort.
And while Barts may have been censured by her school board colleagues, in some ways, her behavior is not a departure from what the school system has strived to cultivate, but rather the fulfillment of it.
In January 2021, Eric Williams, the superintendent who set up the various equity programs — only to be besieged with unyielding complaints from both sides — quit and moved across the country to lead a much smaller district in Clear Creek, Texas.
Loudoun parents, hoping to save others from the results they had seen, contacted Texans imploring them to call off the hire.
The Clear Creek school board voted to ban “divisive” racial concepts, including the use of critical race theory on students — or staff.