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OPINION

How Low Will the Loudoun County School Board Go?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File

The education world is ablaze with the story from Loudon County, Virginia, about the tragic consequences of a school district policy opening up restrooms to students of both sexes. The Daily Wire reported this week that in May 2021, a boy (“allegedly wearing a skirt”) allegedly attacked a girl in the girls’ restroom and was criminally charged with forcible sodomy, anal sodomy, and forcible fellatio. A few weeks later, the victim’s father — Scott Smith — was arrested at a Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Board meeting when he joined other parents in protesting the bathroom use policy that enabled the attack on his daughter.

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At the time of Smith’s arrest, LCPS had not revealed to other parents that the assault occurred. Nor had it revealed that the same assailant – whom LCPS reportedly transferred to another school as a result of the first assault — had attacked another girl at his new school.

But the problem goes much deeper than simply not mentioning the crimes, as bad as that is. In fact, at the June board meeting that prompted Smith’s arrest, LCPS officials were asked specifically about assaults in schools’ private facilities since the 2019 implementation of the bathroom use policy – and their responses were blatantly untrue.

Beginning at about the 6:47:10 mark of the meeting video, during a discussion of revising the bathroom use policy (officially known as Rule 1040) to comply with new state law, School Board Chair Brenda Sheridan poses a question to LCPS personnel who are testifying: “Have we had any issues involving transgender students in our bathrooms or locker rooms since the passage of 1040?”

The response comes from an official who is off-camera and therefore not clearly identifiable: “Ms. Sheridan, we have not had any issues to my knowledge.” 

Maybe this official is just out of the loop, which would raise the question why she's the one responding to the inquiry. But none of the other officials speak up to offer any correction either.  

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Even worse, and even more incredibly, Superintendent Scott Ziegler asks for the floor so that he can double down on the erroneous denial. According to Ziegler, “The issue of assaults taking place, or transgender students assaulting other students in the restroom,” is a “red herring.” Ziegler then cites a 2016 Time Magazine article claiming such assaults are a myth. 

“In fact,” Ziegler proclaims, “regardless of the gender or gender identity of a student, if a crime or a violation of the rules is committed, that would be investigated and dealt with to the full extent of the rules or the law... It’s not happening.”

Is it even conceivable that the district superintendent was unaware of two sexual assaults allegedly committed in the schools he supervises? If that’s true, LCPS has a critical problem in its administration. But the other possibility is much worse – that LCPS officials were deliberately misleading, and even going out of their way to mislead, the board and the community about the tragic results of the policy that LCPS champions as a testament to social justice and civil rights.

Forced to respond to the uproar after the assaults were reported publicly, LCPS finally issued a statement noting — contrary to the statements at the Board meeting — that the assault on Smith’s daughter (plus the other similar attack) had been reported to law enforcement and would be properly investigated by LCPS. The statement also claimed that “members of the Loudoun County School Board were not aware of the specific details of the incident until it was reported in media outlets earlier this week.” LCPS also added the irrelevant observation that Smith had not signed up to speak at the board meeting as though that somehow justified his arrest.

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Note that LCPS doesn’t assert expressly that the board was unaware of the assault. It merely says the Board members didn’t know the “specific details” of the assault. Would LCPS officials really have concealed from the Board crimes committed at two schools – enabled by a policy that the board passed? Given the general level of incompetence and perhaps venality demonstrated by the administration in this sordid episode, anything’s possible. But if the district officials really were hiding the information, surely the board will consider mass terminations in the district office.

But maybe not. After all, this board passed the dangerous policy in the first place, with the majority ignoring common sense concerns about the safety of all LCPS students. And at the end of Superintendent Ziegler’s declaration of Nothing to See Here, one board member rejected the entire notion that possible assaults are a concern, saying “Our students do not need to be protected and they are not in danger from their transgender peers. And so that rhetoric is hurtful and false.”

Or maybe not.

Parents should remove their children from any schools that maintain these misguided policies. In the meantime, trust no one in any school administration to tell the truth — or to protect your kids.

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