A special grand jury issued three indictments against former Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent Scott Ziegler on charges related to his handling of the sexual assault of two students.
In May 2021, a male student who identified as “gender fluid” assaulted a 15-year-old girl in the girls restroom at Stone Bridge High School, in the Northern Virginia school district. He was transferred to Broad Run High School (BRHS), another LCPS school, where he assaulted another girl in a classroom, in October 2021.
The indictments were issued just a week after the special grand jury released a scathing report about how LCPS handled the first sexual assault. If handled properly, they said, the second attack would not have happened.
The report described that second incident, saying:
[T]he individual snatched an unassuming female out of the hallway, abducted her into an empty classroom, nearly asphyxiated her, and sexually assaulted her. The individual was taken into custody that day, where he has remained ever since.
Ziegler served as interim superintendent when the restroom assault took place and was made superintendent the next month. This meant he was responsible for the transfer of the teen assailant to another school in his district.
After the October incident, angry parents attended a school board meeting and alleged that Zeigler and board members had lied at the June board meeting when they “assured us that students are safe and there had been no incidents of concern.”
The jury came to the same conclusion about Ziegler’s dishonesty:
At the June 22, 2021, LCSB meeting, the superintendent, in response to a question, said, “[t]o my knowledge we don’t have any records of assaults occurring in our restrooms.” We believe this statement was a lie.
At that June meeting where the superintendent assured parents of student safety, the first victim’s father, Scott Smith, was hit in the face, dragged out and arrested.
Smith intended to speak out about what happened to his daughter as the board debated “transgender” policies. He was forcibly removed when the board declared the meeting “an unlawful assembly.”
Ziegler was charged with three misdemeanors, reported Loudoun Now, “one count of false publication, one count of prohibited conduct, and one count of penalizing an employee for a court appearance.”
Prohibited conduct is a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of $2500 or both. The other two charges are class 3 misdemeanors, punishable by fines of up to $500 each.
The charges came less than a week after Zeigler was let go by LCPS. Loudoun Now reported:
Under the terms of his contract, since he was fired without cause, Ziegler will be paid his full $323,000 annual salary and compensation for the next year in monthly installments. On top of his salary, his compensation includes perks such as a $12,000 annual vehicle allowance, health insurance and retirement benefits. The School Board had approved a $28,000 raise for Ziegler in July.
Another LCPS employee, Public Information Officer Wayde Byard, was indicted with a count of felony perjury. The Class 5 felony could mean up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
On his first day in office, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin asked Attorney General Jason Miyares to investigate LCPS, which has been the center of attention for several years.
As we’ve reported in the Daily Citizen, parents discovered and battled against vulgar and obscene books in school classrooms and libraries; fought critical race theory; and spoke out against the transgender mandate that endangered students and violated students’ and teachers’ free speech.
Over a period of eight months, the jury conducted more than 40 interviews and reviewed over 40 pieces of official evidence. In an overview of the grand jury findings, the report states:
We believe that throughout this ordeal LCPS administrators were looking out for their own interests instead of the best interests of LCPS. This invariably led to a stunning lack of openness, transparency, and accountability both to the public and the special grand jury. There were several decision points for senior LCPS administrators, up to and including the superintendent, to be transparent and step in and alter the sequence of events leading up to the October 6, 2021 BRHS sexual assault. They failed at every juncture.
The report concluded that “there was not a coordinated cover-up between LCPS administrators and members of the LCSB [Loudoun County Public School Board], but went on to say the board was “deliberately deprived of information” about the May assault until the October assault took place. Even then, they learned about the incident from the public, not from Zeigler.
The jury concluded that there were breakdowns of communication at many points along the way:
We also believe the October 6, 2021 abduction and sexual assault of a female student at Broad Run High School could have, and should have, been prevented. A remarkable lack of curiosity and adherence to operating in silos by LCPS administrators is ultimately to blame for the October 6 incident. While we strongly believe LCPS bears the brunt of the blame for the October 6 incident and the transfer of the student from SBHS to BRHS, 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.
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