Parents groups in Loudoun County, Virginia, aren’t holding back their condemnation of the school board after one member resigned and the superintendent apologized for the district’s handling of two sexual assault allegations against a trans-identified male student.
After initially denying that the first assault ever happened, LCPS Superintendent of Schools Scott Ziegler publicly apologized to the victims’ families on Friday, soon after one parent filed a lawsuit against the school district.
“My heart aches for you and I am sorry that we failed to provide the safe, welcoming and affirming environment that we aspire to provide. We acknowledge and share in your pain and we will continue to offer support to help your families through this trauma,” Ziegler said.
While defending the school district and claiming that staff followed proper procedures, Ziegler said changes needed to be made going forward. He vowed that in the future, “We will exercise all options available under Title IX to separate alleged offenders from the general student body.”
Ahead of Ziegler’s public statement, Loudoun County School Board member Beth Barts, who parents were seeking to recall, announced her resignation on Facebook. However, she didn’t explicitly give a reason for her resignation, which will become effective on Nov. 2. Barts explained that while “this was not an easy decision or a decision made in haste,” she determined that “it is the right decision for me and my family.”
Last week, The Daily Wire published an investigative report detailing how a trans-identified male student sexually assaulted two girls at two different high schools in Loudoun County, both before and after the proposal and implementation of a transgender bathroom policy in the district that allows trans-identified boys to enter girls’ bathrooms and vice versa.
The first incident occurred at Stone Bridge High School on May 28, where Scott Smith’s teenage daughter was raped and sodomized in a girls’ bathroom by a “boy allegedly wearing a skirt.”
Smith initially decided not to speak publicly about what happened to his daughter after being warned that she wouldn’t get justice if he spoke out. He was also told that the trans-identified student was being monitored by an ankle bracelet and wasn’t allowed on any school campus. Months later, he discovered that he had been lied to and the student was transferred to a different school in the district where he assaulted a second girl in an empty classroom.
The outcry from the public was swift and immediate.
Parents descended on the Loudoun County School Board meeting last week, demanding accountability from the board and Ziegler. In the wake of public backlash, the school district issued a statement on Oct. 13, asserting that it followed proper procedure for handling sexual assaults (internally) while failing to mention that the incidents involved a trans-identified male assaulting girls. Dispatch records from the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, obtained by The Daily Wire, call the district’s claims into question.
While the district noted that “principals are legally required to report to the local law enforcement agency any act, including sexual assault, that may constitute a felony offense” under Virginia law and stated that the “Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office was contacted within minutes of receiving the initial report on May 28,” dispatch records show that the law enforcement agency was not contacted until nearly an hour after the school resource officer learned of the matter.
Notes for one of the calls suggest that an “upset parent,” referring to Smith, was the impetus for the call to law enforcement, not the rape. Stone Bridge High School Principal Tim Flynn sent an email to families informing them that “There was an incident in the main office area today that required the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office to dispatch deputies to Stone Bridge. The incident was confined to the main office and the entrance area to the school.”
While he mentioned that “something out of the ordinary happened at school today,” he gave no indication that a sexual assault occurred. The email from Flynn as well as events that unfolded at a June 22 school board meeting where parents, including Smith, showed up to protest a proposed policy that would allow trans-identified students to enter opposite-sex bathrooms, led Smith, parent advocacy groups and parents of LCPS students to conclude that the district engaged in a cover-up.
Despite knowing that a girl had been raped in a bathroom, Ziegler told the public at that school board meeting that no sexual assaults had occurred in the district’s bathrooms: “To my knowledge, we don’t have any records of assaults occurring in our restrooms.”
Additionally, Ziegler dismissed concerns that trans-identified people can be sexual predators, claiming that such notions were a “red herring.” To support his argument, he cited Time magazine, which claimed that “the predator transgender student or person simply does not exist.”
On Friday, Ziegler admonished his earlier remarks at the June 22 meeting: “I regret that my comments were misleading and I apologize for the distress they caused families.”
Parent activist groups have said that Ziegler’s apology was not sufficient. The group Fight for Schools sent out a tweet Friday maintaining that “Nobody believes you” and demanded that Ziegler “resign now.”
Asra Normani of Parents Defending Education agreed, accusing Ziegler of trying to “gaslight America” in his remarks. She further noted that “he and the board lied to parents,” and insisted that “they must all resign.”
Regarding Barts’ resignation, concerns about her behavior as a school board member predate the eruption over the district’s handling of the sexual assaults at two of the county’s high schools. Earlier this year, the school board voted to censure Barts and remove her from her committee assignments for violating the code of conduct by making inflammatory comments on social media and encouraging people to attack parents who disagreed with her views on critical race theory.
Before her resignation, Barts faced a recall effort for her social media comments expressing a desire to “call out statements and actions that undermine our stated plan to combat systemic racism.”
The comments, obtained by The Daily Wire and made in a private Facebook group called “Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County,” were followed by calls from other members to expose opponents of critical race theory. Members of the group formulated a list of parents opposed to critical race theory, which included the names, addresses and employers of said opponents. Barts later posted a message reading: “Thank you for the response to my posting this morning.”
“Thank you for stepping up. Silence is complicity,” she added. Her remarks were characterized as an endorsement of leaking the addresses of parents with children in the district without their consent, also known as doxing.
The resignation of Barts and Ziegler’s public remarks came after Smith filed a lawsuit against Loudoun County Schools. In a statement, Bill Stanley, the attorney representing Smith in the legal proceedings, elaborated on the lawsuit’s purpose: “The conduct of Loudoun County Schools and the Loudoun School Board directly resulted in the brutal rape of the [Smiths’] daughter at Stone Bridge High.”
“It only takes an instant to see how Loudoun County Schools have adversely affected this family, and have harmed their daughter. To date, no one with Loudoun County Schools or the School Board has been held accountable for the wrong done to the Smith family. Our firm intends to rectify that.”
Additionally, Stanley expressed his intent to “pursue any and all who seek to defame this wonderful family.”
The sexual assaults of the two teenage girls in Loudoun County as well as the adoption of controversial curriculum in both Loudoun County and nearby Fairfax County have become significant issues in the upcoming Virginia gubernatorial election, set to take place in two weeks.
The RealClearPolitics average of polls taken since the beginning of October shows Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who has come under fire for asserting that “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” leading his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin by 2.2 percentage points.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org