Loudoun schools mulling next option in continuing probe

(The Center Square) – Loudoun County Public Schools is considering its legal options after a court ruled the state can continue its investigation into how the school system handled two sexual assault allegations last year.

“While Loudoun County Public Schools does not agree with all of the rulings Judge Plowman issued … it appreciates the Court’s thoughtfulness in addressing these complex matters,” a statement from the school system read that was provided to The Center Square. “LCPS is currently considering all available legal options, but has not made any final decisions at this point.”

The court denied the district’s request for a temporary injunction to halt a grand jury investigation into the school system, ruling that the school system failed to demonstrate irreparable harm. The grand jury was convened by Attorney General Jason Miyares after Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued Executive Order 4, which compelled Miyares to investigate.

Although the court ruled on the temporary injunction, it has not yet ruled on the merits of the case or whether the grand jury investigation is lawful. The judge’s ruling only allows the investigation to continue, pending a ruling on the legality of the attorney general convening the grand jury.

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling dismissing the School Board’s complaint and affirming Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order Number Four,” Miyares said in a statement. “This is a win for parents and students across the commonwealth. I will never stop fighting for justice and to protect the families of Loudoun County, and the commonwealth.”

The grand jury is investigating whether the school system intentionally lied to parents about the sexual assaults.

Last year, a male student wearing a skirt was charged with sexual assault of a female student in the girls’ bathroom. He was then transferred to another school in the county, where he was charged with sexually assaulting another girl. The boy was found guilty on all charges in both cases.

School officials have stated that they immediately contacted the police when the assault was reported. The governor alleges officials lied to parents. Superintendent Scott Ziegler informed the school board about the assault, but then less than one month later, told the board during a public hearing that there was no record of assaults occurring in school bathrooms. No one on the school board corrected him.

The denial came amid debates surrounding a proposed school policy to allow any student to use a bathroom that matches his or her self-proclaimed gender identity, even if it did not match his or her biological sex. The timing led some to accuse the school of trying to cover up the assault to more effectively advance its transgender bathroom policy.

During the gubernatorial race, Youngkin, Miyares and other Virginia Republicans made parental rights in education one of the top campaign issues. Criticism of how the school system handled the sexual assaults became a part of their broader messaging on public education.