Loudoun County Public Schools Launching an 'Independent Review' of Sexual Assault Handling

Posted: Nov 06, 2021 1:15 PM
Loudoun County Public Schools Launching an 'Independent Review' of Sexual Assault Handling

Source: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File

Loudoun County Public Schools superintendent Scott Ziegler announced that he is launching an "independent review" into the school district's handling of reported incidents of sexual assault at Stone Bridge and Broad Run high schools.

Ziegler sent an email to Loudoun County Public Schools family and staff announcing that the school district had hired Blankingship & Keith, P.C. to conduct the review of the recent sexual misconduct allegations.

"We believe we have followed all mandatory reporting protocols and aided law enforcement to the fullest extent allowed in all investigations regarding these matters," Ziegler said. "We acknowledge that these matters need to be fully reviewed. Consequently, and with full support of the School Board, Loudoun County Public Schools hired Blankingship & Keith, P.C. on October 28, 2021 to conduct an independent review of these incidents."

"Please know that this independent review is only one step in moving forward to help heal our school community. We will keep you up-to-date about the steps we take and the progress we make. Together, we believe we can make our schools a safer, more nurturing environment for every student," he continued.

This comes after an email leaked last month revealed that Ziegler sent a May 28 email alerting school board members that a sexual assault had been reported. The email was sent the same day as the one that had captured national headlines, as Townhall previously reported.

"The purpose of this email is to provide you with information regarding an incident that occurred at Stone Bridge HS," Superintendent Scott Ziegler said in the email at the time. "This afternoon a female student alleged that a male student sexually assaulted her in the restroom."

LCPS confirmed the May email to Fox News but said specific details were missing, adding that "Board members are regularly informed about major incidents that happen in our schools."

"In this case, the superintendent sent an email message to the board on Friday, May 28, 2021," LCPS's spokesperson said. "A copy of that email message is attached. In the message, board members were informed in a general fashion that an alleged incident took place and that the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office was conducting an investigation of the incident."

"As LCPS has stated, the School Board was not provided specific details or the names of those involved, and were advised by Dr. Ziegler that they would not receive updates regarding this matter, as it was being investigated by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office," the spokesperson continued. "The School Board had not been provided any specific information regarding this matter from LCPS staff prior to the June 22, 2021 meeting or at any point thereafter until the recent news reports were published."

During a June 22 school board meeting, the victim's father, Scott Smith, accused the school district of attempting to cover up the sexual assault of his daughter, who he said at the time was raped by a skirt-wearing biological male in a school bathroom, in an effort to continue pushing transgender policies. He was arrested at this board meeting and ultimately charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest following an altercation with a woman who said she doubted the validity of his daughter's rape.

The boy accused of raping Smith's daughter was later convicted on two counts of rape.

But Ziegler said at the June 22 school board meeting that "the predator transgender student or person simply does not exist," and, to his knowledge, "we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms," according to The Daily Wire, which first reported the assault.

He later apologized, admitting that LCPS failed to provide a safe environment for its students. 

"First, let me say to the families and students involved — my heart aches for you and I am sorry that we failed to provide the safe, welcoming, and affirming environment that we aspire to provide," he said.

The superintendent apologized for these remarks on Oct. 15, saying that he "wrongly interpreted" a question "about discipline incidents in bathrooms." He said that he viewed the question as a criticism of the district's transgender policy, 8040. 

"I regret that my comments were misleading and I apologize for the distress that error caused families," he said.

LCPS spokesman Wayne Byard told Fox News in late October that the school district reported the alleged assault on May 28 to the sheriff's office immediately and that the superintendent made the school board aware of the alleged assault that same day. But, because "the nature of the incident was still under investigation," the report "could not be released to the general public" at the time. 

The boy convicted of the assault was also accused of raping a different girl at another school on Oct. 6. Byard said this incident "was reported to the Sheriff's Office immediately," as well. 

"In the current politically charged atmosphere, a lot of claims and demands have been made. The focus of the superintendent and School Board remains the education of Loudoun County’s 81,000 students," Byard said.