A newly disclosed email sent by the superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools alerting school board members of an alleged sexual assault on school grounds contradicts what he later said publicly about there being no record of such an incident.
Superintendent Scott Ziegler, who now claims his public statement was made after misinterpreting a question, sent the email on May 28, saying the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office in Northern Virginia was investigating an alleged sexual assault at Stone Bridge High School.
“The purpose of this email is to provide you with information regarding an incident that occurred at Stone Bridge HS," Ziegler said in the email obtained by WTOP News. "This afternoon a female student alleged that a male student sexually assaulted her in the restroom. The LCSO is investigating the matter.”
But a month later, on June 22, when he addressed an unruly school board meeting over claims of a female student getting raped by another student in the girl's restroom, he said, "We don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms."
In October, the Daily Wire published a report in which a father of a student at Stone Bridge said his daughter was raped by a boy allegedly wearing a skirt in the girls' bathroom on May 28. Another incident allegedly occurred in the same school district on Oct. 6, when a female student at Broad Run High School in Ashburn was allegedly forced into a classroom and inappropriately touched by the same student from the May 28 incident.
A 15-year-old male from Ashburn has been charged in both crimes, Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj told WTOP. He is being held at the Loudoun County Juvenile Detention Center.
In the ensuing fallout, parents demanded Ziegler's resignation of superintendent at a Oct. 12 Loudoun County school board meeting, accusing him of allegedly overseeing cover-ups of two sexual assaults occurring on school grounds.
Ziegler issued an apology on Oct. 15 for the school system’s reaction to recent sexual assaults on school grounds, saying members of the school board "acknowledge and share your pain." He said he would propose changes “to ensure school discipline and criminal investigations can happen simultaneously."
John Beatty, a Loudoun County school board member, said the disclosure of Ziegler's May 28 email shows the school needs an investigation. Beatty, who said he was speaking on his own behalf, said he did not recall receiving the email.
Ziegler's response on June 22 was "incredibly concerning," Beatty said on WMAL.
"I'm always trying to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I think it's important that we get all the facts just so we can have justice for the students and for the employees and not make any rash decisions," Beatty said. "But it is incredibly concerning to hear that and now everything else coming to light."
Ziegler apologized for the comments he made during the June 22 meeting, saying he misinterpreted the question, believing it was solely about transgender students.
“I regret that my comments were misleading and I apologize for the distress there that caused families,” he said. “I should have asked board member [Beth] Barts clarifying questions to get to the root of her question rather than assuming what she meant I will do better in the future.”
The Virginia Department of Education is investigating the discrepancies in LCPS reports.
"During the past week, Loudoun County Public Schools has received a number of questions from community members regarding if, and when, the School Board was made aware of the alleged sexual assault that occurred May 28 at Stone Bridge High School," LCPS said in a statement reported by ABC 7.
"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," the statement added. " ... 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 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."
Loudoun County Public Schools next school board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 26.
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Original Author: Asher Notheis