Filed in Loudoun's circuit court in Virginia, Wednesday's petition represents the culmination of a months-long effort by residents to recall seven board members who reportedly belonged to a secret, "anti-racist" Facebook group. That was one of a "litany" of charges the petition cited in calling for Barts' removal.
Her various activities on social media and email have led residents to accuse Barts of violating multiple facets of state and local policies that govern members' conduct. For example, the lawsuit alleges that Barts and other members effectively held illegal meetings by participating in exclusive Facebook groups and emails. Barts specifically has been accused of violating county policy by disrespecting fellow board members and showing a disregard for public concern on various issues.
The lawsuit came as the entire school board faced a national backlash over its embrace of so-called "equity" trainings. But Barts, in particular, seems to have aroused special ire among critics within the county.
As Fox News previously noted, several public commenters at a recent school board meeting called out Barts by name. Fight for Schools PAC, which is leading the recall effort, also said it has gathered hundreds of signatures for various members but recently surpassed the amount needed (1,175) to request Barts' removal. That figure is based on a requirement that signatures number at least 10% of the total votes (11,751) in Bart's 2019 election. In a press release, the group said it had 1,860 signatures.
Fight for Schools PAC leader Ian Prior announced the move at a press conference Wednesday. Prior is a former Trump administration official who lives in Loudoun County and has daughters in the school system.
Barts did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment. However, the petition references an email in which Barts denied violating the law on public meetings, saying that open meetings occurred when "MORE than 2 elected representatives are having a conversation in real time on social media or in person about school business." The petition disputes that, claiming that state public records law defines a meeting as "when at least three members are involved in a gathering where ‘part of the purpose of such gathering is the discussion or transaction of any public business.’"
Many of the petition's charges touch on issues already addressed by the school board, which has repeatedly met over Barts' social media activity. In March, the board voted to censure Barts and Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan quickly followed by removing Barts from her committee assignments.
Sheridan herself has come under fire for comments directed at CRT opponents as well as her activity on two Facebook groups. Along with Sheridan and Barts, members Ian Serotkin, Denise Corbo, Leslee King and Atoosa Reaser are also facing a recall effort.
One of the groups – the Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County (ARPLC) – received plenty of media attention after it allegedly attempted to compile information on CRT opponents within the county.
A subsequent investigation by the sheriff's department resulted in no criminal charges but authorities reportedly told alleged victims they could bring civil or misdemeanor charges.
"After a thorough investigation by the FBI and the Sheriff’s Office, the cops found nothing to prosecute," Barts' attorney Charlie King said an email to the Loudoun Times-Mirror. "The Sheriff’s Office report is a crushing setback for the so-called recall campaign."
Wednesday's petition claims that Barts provided false information to law enforcement – saying that she didn't sign back onto Facebook until the morning after her initial post. The lawsuit alleges that Barts had actually added comments that evening. The ARPLC group currently isn't available to the public.
Complicating matters further, county attorney Buta Biberaj was allegedly part of ARPLC. Wednesday's petition argues that due to the apparent conflict of interest, the court should appoint an independent prosecutor to handle the case.
Barts also purportedly used her private Facebook account to "comment on Board business" and "destroy[ed] public records" by deleting negative responses.
A Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) spokesperson declined to comment, telling Fox News, "because the recall effort involves an ongoing legal matter. Also, Mrs. Barts is an elected official, not an LCPS employee. LCPS does not comment on actions undertaken by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office."