ASHBURN, Va. (7News) — Some Loudoun County parents say after threats were made, fewer parents are showing up to voice their concerns at school board meetings.
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is investigating those threats made in the Facebook group, "Loudoun Love Warriors."
7News has also shown how some members of the Loudoun Love Warriors group have doxed Loudoun County parents, discussed ways to get people fired from their jobs, and even threatened some people because of what they said at school board meetings.
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Abbie Platt said parents who normally show up at school board meetings didn’t Tuesday evening.
“They weren't willing to go. They are nervous,” said Platt. “It definitely has a chilling effect on people when you see that there are parents who are being attacked.”
Platt said school board members didn’t publicly discuss the threats made in the Loudoun Love Warrior’s Facebook group during Tuesday’s school board meeting.
“Without any words from the school board members, it leaves a very unsettling feeling for sure,” Platt added.
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Platt said Tuesday’s school board meeting was emptier than it’s been in months.
“My hope is that Chair [Phyllis] Randall will do the right thing,” said Platt. “She has a responsibility to set an example and some guard rails on an expectation for a better way.”
A number of elected officials, including Chair Randall and four school board members, appear to be associated with members of the Loudoun Love Warriors Facebook group.
Randall took questions about the Loudoun Love Warriors following her State of the County address on Wednesday evening, saying, " I condemn all of it equally."
"No person is responsible for their behavior but themselves," Randall responded when asked about alleged ties to people in the group. "That’s just a fact. I responded to this question many, many times. I wasn’t in that group, I didn’t know anybody, I didn’t have any staff in that group, I didn’t have any family members in that group."
"Simply having a tangential relationship with somebody or an association does not make you guilty, and I think that’s just silly. I think most reasonable people know that, as well," Randall continued.
Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj is also associated with members of the group. One of her staff members is in the group.
A recording obtained by 7News shows Biberaj criticizing Scott Smith. Biberaj prosecuted Smith after an altercation at a school board meeting. Smith’s daughter was sexually abused by another student at a Loudoun County high school in 2021.
“He [Scott Smith] got arrested by the police,” Biberaj is heard saying in the recording. “We prosecuted him. And we got in trouble for prosecuting him ... I was like How was that our fault?”
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Someone having a conversation with Biberaj asked Biberaj how it was her “fault” for prosecuting Smith.
“Because how dare we prosecute a father who was trying to stand up for his daughter who was sexually abused,” Biberaj is heard saying in the recording.
“The hardest part for me was what it did to his daughter,” Biberaj is heard saying later in the recording. “Like you used her as this person who will never have her life again, didn’t have control over what was published. And he [Smith] is a hot head. That’s unfortunate because He thinks he’s not as poster boy as a victim.”
It appears that Biberaj lamented that Smith was vocal about what happened to his daughter.
Smith’s story received national attention in 2021.
“Buta Biberaj has had a vendetta against me and my family,” Smith told 7News on Wednesday.
“She [Biberaj] vilified and abused her powers trying to prosecute me and put me in jail,” Smith added. “This has all been about Buta against the Smiths.”
In the same recording obtained by 7News, Biberaj also lamented about recall campaigns that were happening in Loudoun County and Biberaj called some Loudoun County Circuit Court judges “Republicans.”
“Judges are not pro us, they are all Republicans,” Biberaj is heard saying in the recording.
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7News reached out to Biberaj and asked if she stood by her comment in the recording last week. Biberaj did not respond.
On Wednesday, Biberaj did not respond to 7News’s request for an interview. Randall is expected to deliver a state of the county address Wednesday evening.
Some school board members released the following statements after 7News' reporting:
“I do not condone any threats against community members who choose to voice their opinions during the public comment portion of our board meetings,” Loudon County School Board members Harris Mahedavi told 7News in a statement regarding some of the “Loudoun Love Warriors” activities. “As a board member, I believe that public comments represent an essential part of school board governance. I welcome the input and feedback of our community members. No one should feel intimidated or be retaliated against due to the perspectives they share with the board. Our community is made up of people with a wide range of perspectives and experiences. This is a point of strength for our school division. However, we must remain respectful of one another and keep our focus on ensuring students have access to the best possible learning experiences throughout our schools.”
“It is sad that anyone would seek to ruin others' lives and livelihoods for simply engaging in free speech with which they disagree,” Loudoun County School Board member Tiffany Polifko told 7News in a statement. “Directly threatening to attack people by means of attempting to cancel or hurt them because they hold different viewpoints is indicative of moral and intellectual bankruptcy.”
To be clear, the elected officials did not personally make threats.