Loudoun County School Board fires superintendent after explosive grand jury report

Loudoun County school board meeting
Loudoun County Schools Superintendent Scott Ziegler listens to public comments during the Loudoun County School Board meeting on Oct. 26, 2021, in Ashburn, Virginia. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Loudoun County School Board fires superintendent after explosive grand jury report

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The Loudoun County School Board fired district Superintendent Scott Ziegler Tuesday night in a closed-door meeting the day after an explosive grand jury report ripped the superintendent’s actions in response to two sexual assaults in district high schools.

The school board, which itself faced criticism over the handling of the assaults, fired Ziegler in a unanimous vote the day after a special grand jury impaneled by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares released a report that said school district administrators, including Ziegler, “failed at every juncture” and could have prevented the second of the two assaults from taking place.

GRAND JURY BLASTS LOUDOUN COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS’ LACK OF COOPERATION IN RAPE CASE

“We believe that throughout this ordeal, LCPS administrators were looking out for their own interests instead of the best interests of LCPS,” the report said. “This invariably led to a stunning lack of openness, transparency and accountability, both to the public and to the special grand jury. There were several decision points for senior LCPS administrators, up to and including the superintendent, to be transparent and step in and alter the sequence of events leading up to the October 6, 2021 Broad Run High School sexual assault. They failed at every juncture.”

While the grand jury did not issue any indictments, the report blasted Ziegler for stating at a June 22, 2021, school board meeting that, to his knowledge, “we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms.” One month prior, a male student reportedly wearing a skirt had sexually assaulted a female student at Stone Bridge High School. The victim’s father was arrested at that school board meeting following an altercation with police.

In the report, the grand jury said it agreed with multiple witnesses who testified that Ziegler lied at the meeting, including one who said the superintendent’s comment was a “bald-faced lie.”

Ziegler had faced calls for his termination dating back to 2021, but the release of the grand jury report intensified those demands as multiple members of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors called on the board to fire Ziegler.

“Let me say this as clearly as possible: Dr. Ziegler needs to be fired,” Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis Randall said Tuesday. “We had a young woman who was violently raped and another one assaulted. Why we are even dancing around this is beyond me. We are leaders in the county. At some point, leaders lead. … I am saying to my colleagues on the school board to fire the superintendent.”

Ian Prior, the executive director of the political action committee Fight for Schools, told the Washington Examiner that his organization was “pleased” with the decision to fire Ziegler, who he said had “put children at risk due to his utterly reckless conduct.” But, he added, more accountability was needed.

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“[Ziegler] was not the only bad actor identified in the special grand jury report, and we will continue to demand the full leadership and culture changes that the special grand jury recommended,” Prior said. “We also note that on Oct. 12, 2021, parents packed the school board meeting to demand Ziegler be fired. On Oct. 14, 2021, Fight for Schools held a press conference demanding that Ziegler be fired and that Loudoun County Public Schools commission a truly independent investigation to be released to the public. Had those things happened as we asked, the members of the school board may have been able to save their now destroyed credibility and legacy.”

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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