Loudoun County, VA – The Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) superintendent was fired by the school board on Tuesday after a grand jury concluded school district completely failed to protect students after a 15-year-old gender-fluid boy wearing a skirt raped a girl inside the school bathroom.
The situation first came to a head in June of 2021, when 48-year-old Scott Smith attended a LCPS school board meeting and accused the school district and Stone Bridge High School officials of attempting to cover up the May 28, 2021 rape of his daughter in order to advance the transgender rights policy it was pushing at the time, FOX News reported.
LCPS Superintendent Scott Ziegler flatly denied Smith’s allegation, at which point a local activist spoke up and openly accused Smith’s daughter of lying about the attack.
That’s when Smith flew into a rage.
He ended up being tackled to the ground by deputies and dragged outside before he was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, according to the New York Post.
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to the White House later that year declaring Smith’s “heinous actions” during the school board meeting were “equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” the New York Post reported.
The school board ultimately passed its transgender rights policy in August of 2021, months after school officials were made aware Smith’s ninth-grade daughter was raped in a school bathroom by a 15-year-old gender-fluid boy wearing a skirt.
Smith’s attorney, Elizabeth Lancaster, said the rapist was subsequently charged with two counts of forcible sodomy, one count of forcible fellatio, and one count of anal sodomy, according to The Daily Wire.
He was convicted of those charges on Oct. 25, 2021, WTOP reported.
The teen who raped Smith’s daughter allegedly struck again at another school in the district earlier that same month, according to FOX News.
The second incident, which occurred at Broad Run High School, involved allegations the teen forced another female student “into an empty classroom where he held her against her will and inappropriately touched her,” the LCSO said in a press release.
The victim immediately reported the assault to a LCSO school resource officer.
The suspect was arrested on abduction and sexual battery charges in that case, according to the sheriff’s office.
The grand jury report, which was released on Dec. 5, concluded the school district put its own best interests ahead of those of its students and that it had “failed at every juncture,” FOX News reported.
The report said LCPS displayed a “stunning lack of openness, transparency and accountability, both to the public and to the special grand jury” regarding how it handled the sexual assaults.
The jury also blasted Ziegler for claiming at a school board meeting in June of 2021 that “the predator transgender student or person simply does not exist,” and further alleging that the LCPS did not have “any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms,” FOX News reported.
Ziegler also claimed he had never been alerted by the LCSO about a juvenile student being charged with a crime in his entire three-year stint with LCPS, WTOP reported.
The superintendent’s denial suggested the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) was to blame for allegedly keeping school officials in the dark about allegations of rape on LCPS campuses, according to WTOP.
“If the school division is not being notified by the sheriff’s office when we’re supposed to be, that’s extremely concerning, because it hampers our ability to conduct a complete Title IX investigation, and to take appropriate actions to keep our student body safe,” LCPS school board member Ian Serotkin told the news outlet at the time.
Loudoun County Sheriff Michael Chapman flatly denied such suggestions in an interview with WTOP in late 2021.
“That’s completely false,” he said, referring to Ziegler’s claims.
Sheriff Chapman noted that school officials often contact the sheriff’s office to investigate incidents, to include the sexual assault of the 15-year-old girl in her school bathroom.
LCSO Colonel Mark Poland echoed the sheriff’s emphatic stance on the issue during a Board of Supervisor’s meeting in November of 2021, WTOP reported.
“They were notified,” Col. Poland reiterated. “They were absolutely notified.”
An email that surfaced in late 2021 proved that Ziegler actually alerted the rest of the board about the May 28, 2021 sexual assault approximately one month prior to his public denial, FOX News reported.
The superintendent informed board members in the email that “a female student alleged that a male student sexually assaulted her in the restroom,” and that the LCSO had opened an investigation, WTOP reported.
Outraged parents and community members subsequently converged on the school board meeting that October, demanding the board and Ziegler be held responsible for the coverup.
“You have buried a sexual assault to protect your precious 8040 [pro-transgender] policy,” declared Carrie Michon, whose grandchildren attend LCPS. “Every last one of you, resign!”
Loudoun County GOP Women’s Club President Patti Hidalgo Menders said the board was “so concerned with pushing race and gender” that they “sacrificed our children,” FOX News reported.
“A girl was sexually assaulted in May, and you all knew about it,” Menders said. “The predator was put back in schools to sexually assault another girl. You all should be fired.”
Smith said that after reporting his daughter’s rape, his family was led to believe the suspect wouldn’t be allowed in school until after the case was adjudicated.
They were stunned to learn the rapist was simply moved to another school.
The grand jury said LCPS “bears the brunt of the blame” for the second sexual assault because it repeatedly failed to “step in and alter” the events preceding the second attack, FOX News reported.
The second assault “could have and should have been prevented,” the jury’s report read.
More than 40 witnesses testified during the grand jury proceedings, during which jurors reviewed more than 100 pieces of evidence, FOX News reported.
They noted that the school board also tried to “thwart, discredit, and push back” against the investigation.
The report provided eight recommendations it said LCPS should implement in order to improve safety, communication, and transparency in the school system, FOX News reported.
Smith told FOX News that the grand jury report basically reiterated information he and his daughter’s supporters already knew.
“My family’s lived through this for almost 18 months now,” he said. “Everything that was pretty much in the grand jury report, we spoke out on.”
What the report didn’t do was have any “teeth” to hold anyone accountable “by name” for what occurred, Smith told FOX News.
Serotkin released a statement trying to spin the grand jury’s report as proof that no one at LCPS did anything wrong.
“We are pleased that the Special Grand Jury’s extensive investigation found no evidence of criminal conduct on the part of anyone within LCPS, and not a single indictment was filed as a result of this lengthy prosses,” he proclaimed in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Loudoun County School Board unanimously voted to fire Ziegler during a two-hour, closed-door meeting on Tuesday, WTOP reported.
Ziegler’s firing was effective immediately.
A source familiar with the situation said that Ziegler’s contract requires he be paid a $323,000 annual salary and compensation for 2023 because he was terminated without cause, WTOP reported.
The school board had also approved a $28,000 pay bump for Ziegler in July, according to Loudoun Now.
“It’s unfortunate that it took a special grand jury report for anyone to take any action,” Jessica Smith, the mother of the first rape victim, told the paper. “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.”
Shortly before the school board’s vote, Loudoun County Chair Phyllis Randall publicly demanded during a Board of Supervisors meeting that Ziegler be fired over the incident, Loudoun Now reported.
“Let me say this as clearly as possible: Dr. Scott Ziegler needs to be fired,” Randall said. “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.”
She noted that the two victims were “failed at multiple levels.”
“School Board, and LCPS, get it together. Get it together. Fire him. Fire him today. Fire him tonight,” Randall said. “If you read that report, you can’t come out with anything else.”