LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. - Lawyers for the parents of Loudoun County Public School students were back in federal court Wednesday arguing that a school board policy violates their children's First Amendment rights.
The parents are suing over a now-defunct bias incident reporting system.
The system, called "Share, Speak Up, Speak Out,
However, a group of parents sued saying the original form and current policies have a chilling effect on their kids' right to free speech.
Virginia federal Judge Anthony Trenga heard the argument last year. He dismissed the parents, saying they couldn’t sue because they had no evidence of any disciplinary actions taken against students as a result of the bias incident forms.
"[It] encourages students to report on each other for so-called microaggressions. Like if a student says they think we should live in a colorblind society or a student says they don't believe in white privilege, that would be considered a microaggression and students could report each other for that," said Jacob Huebert, president of the Liberty Justice Center, which is representing the parents.
Trenga listened to arguments again and once more, he pressed lawyers for evidence that the bias reporting system hurt their children.
The problem is that no parent has alleged or been able to point to any specific comment that got their child in trouble or written up on the form. They are arguing that the policy presents a looming threat of school action.
The lawyer for the parents argued that several current policies — not just the original bias reporting form — make their children feel like they cannot express themselves and violate their right to free speech.
One of those policies is the recently revised dress code that explicitly prohibits "displays of certain symbols such as confederate or swastika images perceived by many as racially hostile."
The lawyer for the school board argued that parents have to show something more than just saying their children are afraid to say something. Also, there has been no enforcement action taken against the children.
The school board says the entire issue is a moot point: LCPS leaders filed declarations to the judge that the bias reporting form is gone and it's not coming back. But parents say they're worried the form could be reinstated by the board.
FOX 5 reached out to LCPS for comment. They say their policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation.
Trenga says he will issue a decision shortly, which could mean anything from a few weeks to months.