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Loudoun County Public Schools superintendent announces ‘independent review’ of sexual assault handling

The superintendent of the Loudoun County Public Schools announced he is launching an “independent review” into the school district’s handling of recent sexual misconduct allegations at Stone Bridge and Broad Run high schools.

In an email to Loudoun County Public Schools family and staff obtained by Fox News and later posted to the school’s website, Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler announced the school district has hired Blankingship & Keith, P.C. to conduct the review of the recent sexual misconduct incidents.

LOUDOUN PARENTS GATHER FOR POTENTIALLY EXPLOSIVE SCHOOL BOARD MEETING AFTER ALLEGED ASSAULT REVELATIONS

Parents and community members attend a Loudoun County School Board meeting, just 40 minutes from Fairfax

Parents and community members attend a Loudoun County School Board meeting, just 40 minutes from Fairfax (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

“We believe we have followed all mandatory reporting protocols and aided law enforcement to the fullest extent allowed in all investigations regarding these matters. 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,” Ziegler said.

ASHBURN, VA - AUGUST 11: Loudoun County School Board members vote to enact Policy 8040 during a school board meeting at the Loudoun County Public Schools Administration Building on August 11, 2021 in Ashburn, Va.  (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

ASHBURN, VA – AUGUST 11: Loudoun County School Board members vote to enact Policy 8040 during a school board meeting at the Loudoun County Public Schools Administration Building on August 11, 2021 in Ashburn, Va.  (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“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 added. “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.”

The superintendent for Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) sent an email alerting the school board of an alleged assault on the same day as the one that has captured national headlines, as Fox News 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. “This afternoon a female student alleged that a male student sexually assaulted her in the restroom.”

WTOP first reported the May 28 message, which was addressed to “School Board Confidential.” 

LCPS confirmed the email to Fox News, noting that it lacked specific details. 

“Board members are regularly informed about major incidents that happen in our schools,” read the school district’s statement. 

“In this case, the superintendent sent an email message to the board on Friday, May 28, 2021. 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.”

LOUDOUN COUNTY FATHER ARRESTED AT SCHOOL BOARD EVENT SAYS SCHOOL TRIED TO COVER UP DAUGHTER’S BATHROOM ASSAULT

“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 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.”

Fox Digital Originals

Fox Digital Originals (Fox Digital Originals)

On June 22, Ziegler said that, to his knowledge, “we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms,” according to the Daily Wire.

He later apologized, saying that LCPS failed to provide a safe environment. 

“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.

On October 15, Ziegler apologized for these remarks, saying that he “wrongly interpreted” a question “about discipline incidents in bathrooms.” He said that he interpreted the question wrongly because he was “viewing the question in light of” the debate around the transgender policy, 8040. 

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

The school district has denied allegations of a cover-up.

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Wayne Byard, a spokesman for Loudoun County Public Schools, told Fox News in late October that the school district reported the alleged assault on May 28 to the sheriff’s office immediately. Byard noted that the superintendent notified the school board of the alleged assault on May 28, 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 October 6 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 added.

Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.

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