Loudoun County, Virginia, is among the richest counties in the nation, according to Census Bureau statistics. But as the county sees growing prosperity and diversity, its schools continue to struggle with racism and hate.
Earlier this year, Superintendent Eric Williams hired a national consulting firm, The Equity Collaborative, to assess the racial well-being of Loudoun County Public Schools. The 23-page report, issued in June, found that students of color face pervasive racial slurs from white students, parents and teachers.
The report highlights several incidents, including an African-American student repeatedly being called the N-word as the teacher failed to intervene. The study also points to a middle school teacher telling a class, “All Arabs are terrorists.”
“All too often, students are subjected to hate speech, and that includes racial slurs and racial incidents,” Williams said. “We just will not tolerate hateful, threatening language.”
Williams added that a multi-pronged effort is underway to combat racism in Loudoun County schools. The school system is working to hire more teachers of color, and it’s boosting training for teachers to provide students what Williams called “more equitable learning experiences.”
In addition, the county is increasing the number of staff members at schools that have a disproportionate share of low-income families or English learners.
“We are committed to fostering a safe, empathetic, respectful and supportive learning environment, and we’ve got work to do to achieve that,” Williams said.
Additionally, the county school system created an ad hoc Committee on Equity, and is overhauling its disciplinary policies with the goal of ensuring that students of color do not receive a disproportionate level of discipline.
“We need to have a strong sense of urgency because this matters,” Williams said.