The ACLU of Virginia has sent letters to the chairs of the Fairfax County and Grayson County school boards advising that recent closed sessions were illegal and demanding that the subjects of the private meetings be disclosed to the public.
The Fairfax County School Board went into closed session on July 18 to discuss legal matters but did not identify the specific subject of the session as required by the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Grayson County School Board did the same on Aug. 8.
Both localities have been discussing transgender student bathroom policies. The Fairfax board had been poised to adopt new regulations allowing students to use facilities that relate to their gender identity but discontinued a public input process following the July 18 closed session. The Grayson County board in May adopted a policy requiring students to use the restroom matching the gender listed on their birth certificates but has recently been under fire from members of the transgender community.
FOIA requires local governing bodies to identify in the motion to enter closed session the subject and purpose of the meeting, as well as citing the code section that allows authorizes the closed session. For purposes of discussing actual or probable litigation, the motion must state the specific subject to be discussed, up to and including the name of a specific lawsuit in which the governing body is involved.
Both the Fairfax County and Grayson County motions to move to closed session only identified the purpose and relevant code section, making it impossible for the public to know what was to be discussed.
The ACLU-VA's letters, signed by Legal Director Leslie Mehta, demand that both boards identify the subjects of their closed sessions, provide details of discussions that took place behind closed doors, and reverse any action taken subsequent and related to the illegal closed sessions.
ACLU-VA Letter to Fairfax County School Board ACLU-VA Letter to Grayson County School Board