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Kelly Leadership Center

Prince William School Board Chair Babur Lateef plans to move forward with a vote on new public comment rules after Wednesday night’s board meeting grew tense with speakers attacking that plan as well as the school system’s mask mandate.

A little over a dozen speakers voiced anger at the school board for the proposed changes, which would cap public comment at two 30-minute sessions per meeting and ban signs that aren’t cleared by the division.

Lateef said the plan would create more avenues for people to give comments, like the ability for those who can’t attend meetings to upload videos to be played during the meeting. Technically, he said, it would also extend the in-meeting comment period by allowing for 30 speakers to talk for two minutes. Current rules call for a single 30-minute comment period that the board technically has to extend, though doing so has been just a formality when there are more speakers beyond the 30-minute period.

But Lateef also said that the proposed changes are, at least to some degree, a response to the chaos that seized the Loudoun County School Board last spring, with meetings disrupted by protestors angry about critical race theory and the rights of transgender students.

“I don’t want what happened in Loudoun County to happen here, it’s just chaos,” Lateef told InsideNoVa.

On Wednesday night, the Prince William board got a small taste, with speeches criticizing the proposed comment policy, critical race theory and masking in schools. Though the division made its own decision before the school year to mandate masks for students in county school buildings, Gov. Ralph Northam’s office also issued its own mask mandate for K-12 schools.

One speaker from Gainesville said the proposed changes to public comment were meant to shut down dissent.

“The fact that this decision is being based on what happened in Loudoun County is unjust and unfair. We as parents and taxpayers of Prince William County should have the right to speak our minds about what is taught to our children, and your actions should revolve around what happens in our county, not Loudoun,” she said.

A junior at Colgan High School also addressed the board, first turning to the crowd and shouting to applause “How many of you are against CRT?”

After a brief exchange with Lateef over keeping order in the room, the student spoke against the proposed rule changes.

“Many citizens in this community care deeply about what happens to our schools, but with the hectic schedules that go along with this area, they might not be able to sign up in the short window of time that’s established,” the student said.

The policy, if enacted, would make speakers sign up online or over the phone ahead of time. If all 30 slots were not filled, there would be first-come sign-up at the start of the meeting.

All told, almost 20 speakers addressed the board Wednesday night. At the same meeting, Superintendent LaTanya McDade announced that enrollment at the start of the school year had surpassed 90,000 students once again after a decline last year.

The crowd was raucous at times, but nobody was removed for being disruptive. Most speakers were unmasked throughout the meeting, despite the mask mandate extending to all county school buildings.

Lateef said the board wasn’t interested in trying to enforce masking at meetings and having people removed for non-compliance. Other school board members said they would like to see the mask mandate enforced.

“I think a lot of people just wanted a YouTube moment of them getting dragged out,” he told InsideNoVa.

(16) comments

Patrick Fitztom

That meeting was just sad, and demonstrates why we need less in the way of public comments. Just a bunch of howlingly angry, fragile white people, crying about what they think CRT is. The coffin dodger with the Trump hat, and the goober that wanted people to read that anti-vaxx Kennedy book...holy cow! What a bunch of ignorant, inbred trash.

Brad London

"Just shut up and do as we tell you". That's the method of far left indoctrination liberals. Elections matter. Clean house.

John Dutko

Last I checked, the far left isn't eating horse dewormer.

Education matters. And so does proper medical advice.

Patrick Fitztom

The problem is that conservatives just aren't smart and NEED to be told what to do. If you hicks would turn of Fox "News" for even five minutes and educate yourselves, you might stop failing constantly. Until then, you'll do what the smart people tell you to do.

Hugh Janus

I'm pretty sure we didn't elect a corrupt waste of life with dementia... One that stranded thousands of americans, got thousands of Afghans killed, 13 service members so far... Good luck with your life retard

Charlie Gabriel

The question really ought to have been, "How many of you know what critical race theory actually is?" Last I checked, post-graduate legal theory wasn't in PWCPS curricula.

Patrick Fitztom

I have yet to meet one of these hicks who can actually define what CRT is. They're mad at what they think it is, not what it actually is. Ahhh, white fragility.

leigh Hughes

Where you even at the School Board Meeting? If you were, you missed the most important thing...the FOIA that was revealedd. Lateef admitted in his texts with Katie Olson Flynn, a member of the Advisory Council on Equity, that he has always maintained this was CRT and he he did not believe in transparency or public discussion. If you want the entire story, contact me. But at least make an attempt at telling the entire story and not just what supports one side....Lateef's.

Paul Benedict

Ah yes, the more upset the community becomes with the school district the less we must hear from them. Democracy in action. Chair Babur Lateef is worried that Prince William parents might get upset at the Board's racist and misogynist ideology.

Rob Schneider

People feel like they don't have a voice as they see the board just taking action without any comment -- and now they feel concerned that the board is stifling comments. Many are concerned that the board wants to enact policies they disagree with, and by limiting citizen feedback, the board will have an easier time doing that. Do citizens have access to communicate with board members about certain issues? If a board member got 300 "vote no" requests to only 30 "vote yes" requests on a topic, one would hope it might encourage the board member to slow down their vote and try to get more information about citizen wishes and desires. Perhaps my ideas here are too "Pollyanna" in believing that the board is acting as a trustee for the citizens that elect them. That's certainly a risk.

George Lawton

Babu sounds like a sneering pretentious government elitist….in all likelihood just another loser.

Mike Hunt

Marxist Democrats (Lateef @ Co) trying to silence opposition plain & simple.

Patrick Fitztom

I'll be you can't even define Marxism.

leigh Hughes

The fact that Lateef blames our outrage on the want of Youtube fame is a true statement to his character. He can't understand that we love our kids and want the best for them. We aren't seeking fame, but accountability for his lies and deceit to the citizens of this county our our kids. The fact he deflected blame to concerned parents instead of looking in the mirror says a lot about his character or lack thereof.

Bill Rio

Lateef is the most out of touch person in PWC

leigh Hughes

I find it amusing that you failed to mention the FOIA that was done on Chairman At Large Lateef. He was caught lying about teaching CRT in our schools, He has denied it again and again, but in the FOIA, he admits "he has maintained CRT is being taught and he has no interest in transparency or public opinion. It appears you are a lateef fan and therefore are not interested in covering the entire story. You let him off the hook. What a sorry news rag!!

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