The U.S. Department of Education has launched an investigation into Loudoun County Public Schools following accusations that the district failed to address reports of two sexual assaults to avoid controversy over a transgender bathroom policy.
The investigation was spurred by a letter sent to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights by America First Legal Foundation (AFLF) in January. The letter raised concerns about the district’s handling of two separate claims of sexual assault carried out by the same male student in 2021.
During the first assault, which occurred at Stone Bridge High School on May 28, 2021, a male student who identified as trans wore a skirt and assaulted a girl inside the girls' restroom. The male student was subsequently transferred to Broad Run High School, where he sexually assaulted another girl on Oct. 6, 2021.
According to AFLF’s letter, the school district did not properly respond to the claims of sexual assault as required by Title IX. The federal civil rights law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, and under the law, schools have a “responsibility to respond promptly and effectively” to address sexual harassment and sexual violence.
“We are pleased that the Department of Education takes this issue seriously and hope that it conducts a thorough investigation into what appears to be a continuing systemic failure of Loudoun County Public Schools to follow its obligations mandated by Title IX,” AFLF Senior Advisor Ian Prior told The Christian Post in a Monday statement.
Citing multiple reports on the assaults, AFLF emphasized in its letter that the district did not launch an investigation into the first sexual assault until five months after the incident. By this time, the assailant had committed an assault at another high school.
“LCPS claimed that they could not conduct a Title IX investigation until law enforcement had completed its investigation, but that both ignores clear Title IX guidelines and the fact that LCPS was aware that law enforcement had completed its investigation and that the student had been formally charged,” the letter reads.
In response to an inquiry from CP, a spokesperson for LCPS confirmed Monday that the district had received the notification of a complaint from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.
“The staff and administration of LCPS remain committed to making student safety and welfare the Division’s highest priority,” the spokesperson wrote. “As this investigation relates to matters concerning student privacy, we will not comment further at this time.”
The U.S. Department of Education did not immediately respond to The Christian Post’s request for comment.
As CP previously reported in December, a special grand jury indicted former LCPS Superintendent Scott Ziegler and the school system's public information officer Wayde Byard following an investigation that found the district lied to parents about the alleged sexual assaults.
The indictment came after the Loudoun County School Board voted to fire Ziegler following the grand jury report’s conclusion that district leaders were "looking out for their own best interests" in their responses to the sexual assaults.
Both assaults occurred as the district as the school district considered implementing a transgender bathroom policy that would allow students to enter opposite-sex bathrooms. The board ultimately approved Policy 8040 in August 2021, three months after the first sexual assault.
During a June 2021 school board meeting, Ziegler told parents concerned about the policy that "we don't have any records of assaults occurring in our restrooms." The grand jury wrote in the report that the superintendent’s statement was a "bald-faced lie."
The grand jury report also criticized the lack of transparency, highlighting how staff at LCSB learned of the assaults through public reporting instead the superintendent’s office.
According to the report, the second sexual assault could have been prevented, but LCPS' "lack of curiosity and adherence to operating in silos" allowed the assault to occur.