(Daily Caller) – The Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) opened an investigation Wednesday into Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) over its handling of multiple sexual assaults which took place in the school district, according to a letter.
In 2022, a nine-member special grand jury in Virginia found that the district “dropped the ball” on student safety after it failed to notify the community that multiple sexual assaults had taken place within the district, despite knowing about the incidents that occurred in 2021. The OCR opened an investigation into the school district after America First Legal alleged in a January complaint that the LCPS administration violated Title IX of the Higher Education Act of 1972 and did not take proper action against the sexual assaults.
“It is paramount that our public schools enact and enforce policies to keep students safe while at school,” Ian Prior, America First Legal senior adviser, said in a press release. “A special grand jury report demonstrated that Loudoun County Public Schools woefully failed in that respect, in part because of the utter lack of a competent Title IX process. We are pleased that the Department of Education has opened an investigation into this dereliction of duty.”
The school district failed to tell its community about the assaults because of “privacy concerns” for the students, the special grand jury report stated.
“LCPS administrators were looking out for their own interests instead of the best interests of LCPS,” the report read. “This invariably led to a stunning lack of openness, transparency and accountability both to the public and the special grand jury.”
Following its report, the Loudoun County School Board fired Superintendent Scott Ziegler “without cause” following the release of the grand jury report. The Loudoun County Special Grand Jury then indicted Ziegler on three misdemeanor charges, including penalizing an employee for a court appearance and charged LCPS Public Information Officer Wayde Byard with felony perjury.
In January, Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge James Fisher refused to dismiss the charges brought against Ziegler, according to WUSA 7 News.
Parents demanded that school board members resign over the special grand jury report at a December meeting. Before indicting Ziegler, the board noted that it was “pleased” that “not a single indictment was filed as a result of this lengthy process.”
Here are signs lining the parking lot outside of the the Loudoun County School Board meeting.
The school board will be addressing the recent grand jury report which concluded that the public school district mishandled several sexual assault cases involving students.@DailyCaller pic.twitter.com/S7Wlbaub9Y
— Reagan Reese (@reaganreese_) December 13, 2022
“You have wasted enough of our time and our money and you have shown that you put politics and agendas above the best interest of our children, putting them in harm’s way,” Elicia Brand-Leudemann, a Loudoun County parent, said at the board meeting. “More indictments will come down and you are all compromised.”
LCPS did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.