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Scott Ziegler, superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) in Virginia, was indicted earlier today after a grand jury report found that he and division administrators were “looking out for their own interests, instead of the best interests of LCPS” regarding two sexual assaults committed by the same student.
After being fired last Tuesday, former Loudoun County Schools Superintendent Scott Ziegler has been indicted on three misdemeanor counts: false publication, conflict of interest-prohibited conduct, and penalizing an employee for a court appearance. Two of the charges involved retaliation against a special education teacher who spoke out. In addition, school spokesman Wayde Byard was indicted for lying under oath, a felony.
The case began on May 28, 2021, when a female student was sexually assaulted in the girl’s bathroom at Stone Bridge High School by a gender-fluid male wearing a skirt. When her father, Scott Smith, arrived at the school, school officials told him the rape would not be reported to police but would be handled at the school. Smith said he “went nuts” and the school called the police, not on the boy who committed the assault, but on Smith.
Smith drew enough attention to the assault that the police did arrest the boy. However, when Loudoun County sent a message to parents to inform them there had been an incident at the school, they said that it involved a parent, not a rape.
On June 22, the school board met to consider a transgender policy, a policy which would allow biological males to share locker rooms and bathrooms with girls. Hundreds of parents attended the meeting to voice their opinion, and Smith was there to share what had happened to his daughter; however, before he could speak, the school board had the meeting declared an unlawful assembly. Smith got into a verbal conflict with a pro-transgender parent and was roughly apprehended by police and eventually arrested. The county prosecutor sought jail time for Smith.
On August 11, the Loudoun County School Board adopted the transgender policy over the concerns of parents. On October 6, the same student who assaulted Smith’s daughter committed another sexual assault at another LCPS school, Broad Run High School, to which he had been quietly transferred.
On taking office this past January, newly elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin, R, requested an investigation. The grand jury report was published last week, stating that the second assault “could have and should have been prevented.”
The report found that Ziegler lied during the June 22 school board meeting. Many had voiced concerns about males being in girls’ bathrooms. “Our students do not need to be protected, and they are not in danger,” School board member Beth Barts said, before asking, “Do we have assaults in our bathrooms or locker rooms regularly?”
Ziegler answered, “To my knowledge, we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms.”
Board member Brenda Sheridan asked, “Have we had any issues involving transgender students in our bathrooms or locker rooms?”
Ziegler replied, “I think it’s important to keep our perspective on this — we’ve heard it several times tonight from our public speakers but the predator transgender student or person simply does not exist.”
When the perpetrator was enrolled at Broad Run High School, his teacher was not informed of the sexual assault months earlier. In short order, multiple girls complained about the male student and the complaints were reported to the principal. The probation officer, school resource officer, superintendent, Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, assistant superintendent, and chief of staff also knew about those complaints, as well as the earlier sexual assault. No punishment was ever issued against the male student, only a verbal reprimand from the principal.
Following weeks of complaints, the boy sexually assaulted another girl in an empty classroom.
The report stated,
“While we strongly believe LCPS bears the brunt of the blame for the October 6 incident and the transfer of the student from [Stone Bridge High School] to [Broad Run High School], a breakdown of communication between and amongst multiple parties—including the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, the Court Services Unit, and the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office—led to the tragic events that occurred.”
“Had any one of a number of individuals across a variety of entities spoken up or realized a serious problem was brewing regarding earlier incidents at BRHS then the sexual assault most likely would not have occurred. But nobody did.”
Although the report found no coordinated effort to conceal the assaults between the school board and the administration, it detailed a broad resistance to the investigation:
“We expected these public servants to provide clarity, transparency, and a willingness to report truthfully to their constituents. Instead, we were met with obfuscation, deflection, and obvious legal strategies designed to frustrate the special grand jury’s work.”
The grand jury said that division counsel led an effort to “get everybody on the same page to thwart, discredit, and push back against this investigation and this report, and to promote their own narrative.”
The jury wrote, “Unlike federal law, no Virginia statute explicitly addresses witness tampering, and the Virginia obstruction of justice statute does not cover this fact pattern. For those reasons, we are unable to consider an indictment against the LCPS division counsel.”
The board fired Ziegler without cause, meaning that under the terms of his contract he will be paid for another year his $323,000 annual salary and various perks, including a $12,000 vehicle allowance, health insurance, and benefits.
Jessica Smith, mother of the first victim, said, “It’s unfortunate that it took a special grand jury report for anyone to take any action. The firing of Ziegler was way overdue and we hope this is the first of many firings of all those who failed these young women who now have to deal with what happened to them for the rest of their lives.”
The family of the second victim released a statement through their lawyer, saying,
Over the last 14 months since our daughter was assaulted, not one member of the school board, LCPS administration, or even our local high school leadership has reached out to check on how she is doing, lend any type of support, or even apologize for what we are going through as a family. That alone speaks volumes to what we have endured throughout this ordeal. The senior leaders at both high schools, along with the Loudoun County Public Schools and the School Board members, should be reminded that our fifteen-year-old daughter displayed more courage and leadership when she reported what happened to her to the Sheriff’s Resource Officer than any of them ever did. The ineptitude of all involved is staggering…”
The lack of mature, accountable leadership within LCPS is truly disgraceful. So many failed to perform their duties, and so many seemed completely unconcerned about the safety of students. For example, following the grand jury report, Loudoun County School Board members released a statement effectively bragging that they weren’t held criminally responsible:
“In spite of the recent allegations leveled against Loudoun County School Board (LCSB) members and Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) employees over the past several months, we are pleased that the Special Grand Jury’s extensive investigation found no evidence of criminal conduct on the part of anyone within LCPS, and not a single indictment was filed as a result of this lengthy process.”
They may have escaped the long arm of the law, but these school board members and school administrators dishonored themselves and let down students, parents, and the community by not doing everything possible to stand up for the girls and families affected and the truth. They should be deeply ashamed, and if they had any morals or common decency, they would resign.
As school leaders, they had a responsibility to protect the well-being and safety of students, not virtue signal their adherence to wokeness and serve their own lust for power. They had a responsibility to live up to the wisdom of Psalm 82:3-4, which says,
“Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.”
In Loudoun County, school officials sacrificed children on the altar of woke ideology. It should be a cautionary tale. It should mean that no other child will ever be harmed again as a result of administrative dishonesty and hubris. But unfortunately children will continue to be put at risk by the very people trusted to protect them — unless legislators and communities come together to enact laws and policies that put power back into the hands of parents and leave no doubt among school board members and administrators that their job is to educate children in basic academics, not wage a self-serving ideological war on students and parents.
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.