Loudoun County Public Schools

Loudoun Schools Head Promises Change on Handling of Sex Assault Reports

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The superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools spoke on Friday on reports of sexual assaults this year in two high schools. 

Superintendent Scott Ziegler apologized to alleged victims and their families, and outlined a number of policy change proposals.

“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. We acknowledge and share in your pain, and we will continue to offer support to help you and your families through this trauma.”

Some parents are calling for the Loudoun County Public Schools superintendent's job because a teenage boy charged with sexual assault at one school was allowed to transfer to another school where he was later charged in a second sexual assault. Northern Virginia Bureau Reporter Drew Wilder reports.

A student allegedly sexually assaulted a classmate at Stone Bridge High School in May, was transferred to Broad Run High School and allegedly assaulted a student there. 

Among the policy changes Ziegler brought up are beginning “disciplinary action at the time of the incident, rather than suspending that action until the end of the Title IX or criminal investigation,” and recommending school board policy changes to “place greater emphasis on victim rights.”

Ziegler said federal Title IX policies don't allow K-12 schools to discipline quickly enough.

Ziegler said that when he answered a question at a raucous June 22 board meeting, he had misinterpreted the question. A board member asked about any discipline incidents in school bathrooms. Ziegler said he interpreted the question to be about any incidents related to transgender and gender-fluid students. 

“My mindset was in line with that subject,” he said. 

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

Ziegler also said the previous LCPS administration failed to report previous sexual assaults to the Virginia Department of Education.

"That is extremely concerning, and we are taking steps to make sure that process is improved,” he said. 

In October 2018, three Tuscarora High School teens were charged with sexually assaulting a football player inside a locker room. However in a Department of Education report online, there isn't a single offense listed.

The state education department told News4 they were in contact with LCPS “regarding the accuracy of their reports and whether the division is in compliance with state reporting requirements.” 

The U.S. education department said there were no active Title IX investigations into Loudoun County schools.

Ziegler did not take questions on Friday.

Some parents have called for his job

The first attack was reported inside Stone Bridge High School in late May, where a ninth-grade girl says a boy forcibly sodomized her inside a bathroom.

“This is a really, really difficult time for them,” said Elicia Brand, a spokesperson for the victim’s family. “I mean, their baby was sexually assaulted in the most heinous of ways."

While the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office was investigating, a Loudoun County School Board meeting devolved into chaos June 22. The victim's mother is heard on cellphone video telling the crowd what happened.

“My child was raped at school! " she said.

Behind her, the victim's father is seen being arrested.

The family says they were provoked by other parents.

Then on Oct. 6 inside Broad Run High School, another girl was sexually assaulted inside of a classroom.

Prosecutors confirm it was the same boy.

“This is not OK to allow a child that has been charged with a rape to go back into a school," Brand said.

The boy was arrested and charged for the first assault in July but released from juvenile detention while prosecutors waited for DNA rape kit evidence to come back.

Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney Buta Biberaj says at the time they had no reason to believe the boy should have stayed in juvenile detention.

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