Loudoun County Public Schools fires superintendent following grand jury report

Following a grand jury investigation into a Virginia school system’s handling of multiple sexual assaults, the modicum of accountability meted out was soured by the fired superintendent’s ability to keep tens of thousands of dollars worth of perks.

Earlier this year, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares launched a grand jury investigation into the Loudoun County Public Schools coverup of two sexual assaults committed by the same skirt-clad boy at separate schools. Tuesday, the school board held a two-hour closed session meeting to discuss the findings in the 92-page report leading to a unanimous vote to fire Superintendent Scott Ziegler without cause.

According to Loudoun Now, Jessica Smith, the mother of the first victim at Stone Bridge High School in May 2021, said, “It’s unfortunate that it took a special grand jury report for anyone to take any action. The firing of Ziegler was way overdue and we hope this is the first of many firings of all those who failed these young women who now have to deal with what happened to them for the rest of their lives.”

Scott Smith, the first victim’s father, had succeeded in bringing the story to light in October when a video of him being arrested after confronting the board for covering up the assaults went viral. Meanwhile, the assailant had been transferred to Broad Run High School where the preventable second assault took place.

However, thanks to Ziegler’s contract, because he was fired without cause he remains entitled to receive his entire annual salary for 2023 amounting to $323,000. Additionally, he retained the perks of his position that included retirement benefits, health insurance and a $12,000 vehicle allowance. While the grand jury investigation was underway, a $28,000 raise was still approved for Ziegler in July.

As the closed-door session occurred, a concurrent Board of Supervisors meeting was held where Loudoun County Chair Phyllis Randall sought a moral victory saying, “Let me say this as clearly as possible: Dr. Scott Ziegler needs to be fired. I’m not dancing around this. We had a young woman violently raped and another one assaulted, and this was for all intents and purposes, on his part, a coverup.”

“They were failed at multiple levels, multiple levels, and if it can happen to them, it can happen to other people as well. So School Board, and LCPS, get it together,” she continued. “Get it together. Fire him. Fire him today. Fire him tonight. If you read that report, you can’t come out with anything else.”

The “victory lap” by some board members and administrators who had no criminal charges leveled against them did not go unnoticed by Supervisor Kristen Umstattd who condemned the behavior as “unseemly” and “callous,” raising a comparison presented by one constituent who likened the scandal to former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky being found guilty of 45 counts of sexually abusing young boys during a 15-year span.

“If we put the children at the center of this question, it is hard to find a meaningful difference in this case…In both cases,” Umstattd said, “children were betrayed by those whose first and foremost job was to protect them, and in both cases, their emotional scars will be with them for the rest of their lives.”

Kevin Haggerty


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