Loudoun Co. school board to cut the cameras on public comments

Livestreaming cameras at Loudoun County School Board meetings will no longer show parents, students or anyone else during the public comment period, after the board voted to remove them from meetings starting next month. The move is sparking outrage from some parents already.

The board voted 6-3 in a March 12 meeting with all Republican and independent-backed members voting against the measure.

Public comments viewed online will now feature a slide showing the school district’s logo, but will still broadcast audio and closed captioning.

“I’m not interested in this being a political grandstanding, which has been happening a lot lately,” said chair Melinda Mansfield during discussion. “I think that takes away from the work of the board.”

Others expressed concern for safety, especially for people who speak at meetings and potentially face backlash for their comments in their private life.

“The main concern is safety for the people that speak,” said board member Sumera Rashid. “I’m trying to avoid a Jerry Springer show.”

‘Absolutely the opposite’ of transparency

Other members were not keen on the measure, like board member Lauren Shernoff.

“Over the past four years, I think decisions were made in general to make the public feel less than,” Shernoff said at the March board meeting. “I feel by turning them back on, we can start to restore some of that trust and build back transparency.”

One parent who was seen on that camera in June 2021 is not happy with the decision.

He is the father of a teenage girl who was sexually assaulted at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Virginia. He was arrested at the meeting and convicted of disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice. He was later pardoned by Gov. Glenn Youngkin. He spoke with Fox News.

“They cannot allow another viral moment like mine to go across the land,” the father, whom WTOP is not naming to avoid indirectly identifying the teenager who was sexually assaulted, told Fox News.

During the interview, he said the members broke campaign promises made just months ago.

“Everyone of them campaigned on transparency and less division and this is absolutely the opposite of what they all campaigned on,” he told Fox News.

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Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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