The Loudoun County School Board faced a horde of incensed parents and discussed multiple changes to its policies following the announcement of indictments against the district’s former superintendent by a special grand jury.
The Tuesday meeting was the first regular public meeting since a special grand jury released a report last week detailing multiple missteps by district administrators, including then-Superintendent Scott Ziegler, in responding to the sexual assault of a female student by a male student in the girl’s bathroom of Stone Bridge High School. The same male student went on to assault another student after he was transferred to Broad Run High School.
During the public comment period, speaker after speaker blasted the board’s response to the assaults and the grand jury report.
Over 18 months after he was arrested at the board’s meeting on June 22, 2021, following a confrontation with law enforcement, Scott Smith, the father of the first sexual assault victim, returned to address the school board and demanded that division counsel Robert Falconi be fired.
“If there was a law on the book, you would be indicted,” Smith said to Falconi, referencing a portion of the grand jury report that said an indictment for witness tampering could not be considered because Virginia lacked the relevant statute.
Following his remarks, Smith told the Washington Examiner that as long as the school board supports Falconi, “there will be no peace, there will be no healing, there will be no sleeping, nothing.”
“They all knew,” Smith said. “They did their own report on this that they did not release to the public. All those school board members knew. Everybody knows this is just more cover-up, more of the same until there’s a cleaner house and more indictments and more people held accountable. We’re basically here tonight doing the same thing we were doing a year ago. Nothing has changed.”
Smith and his wife were among the dozens of speakers who addressed the board in angry and pained voices.
Ian Prior, the executive director of Fight for Schools, told the Washington Examiner shortly after addressing the board that the school district could change all the policies it wanted but that the public does not trust the board.
“Nobody is going to trust Loudoun County Public Schools as long as the seven members of the school board that were in office last year when this all happened and throughout the grand jury process are still sitting on that dais,” Prior said. “That goes for the Republicans and the Democrats on that board.”
The board swiftly fired Ziegler last week in the wake of the report, but on Monday, a Loudoun county judge ordered three misdemeanor indictments by the grand jury against Ziegler to be unsealed. A fourth indictment for felony perjury was handed down against the district’s public information officer, Wayde Byard.
The special grand jury had outlined several policy recommendations for the board to implement in order to improve the district’s policies to prevent similar incidents from occurring.
Prior to the public comment period, Falconi presented multiple proposed revisions to district policy based on the recommendations of the special grand jury at the meeting. The changes included modifications to the district’s technology policy, the student transfer policy, the school threat assessment policy, and the board’s code of conduct.
During the business portion of the meeting, in a notable shift from previous policy, several members of the school board expressed a willingness to support the release of a report by an independent investigation it commissioned last year into the sexual assaults. The board had previously invoked attorney-client privilege in refusing to release the report.
Releasing the independent report was first among a list of demands by Prior and Fight for Schools in a Tuesday letter to the board, a copy of which was reviewed by the Washington Examiner.
“Its release is necessary to verify subsequent claims by [Loudoun County School Board] leadership as to its incompleteness, and a critical first step to re- establish trust and confidence in this board,” Prior wrote in the letter. The group also called for Falconi to be dismissed and for the school board to change Ziegler’s firing from without cause to with cause.