A special grand jury has found the former superintendent and spokesman for the schools in Loudoun County, Virginia, guilty of crimes.
The office of Attorney General Jason Miyares said in a statement Monday that former superintendent Scott Ziegler has been charged with one count of misdemeanor false publication, one count of misdemeanor prohibited conduct, and one count of misdemeanor penalizing an employee for a court appearance. Spokesman Wayde Byard has been charged with one count of felony perjury.
Ziegler was fired last week after a special grand jury released a report about how the school system handled two sexual assaults by the same student in 2021. In a statement, the school system said that Byard was put on leave Monday afternoon. Miyares’ office said that a judge ordered the indictments to be made public on Monday. The indictments themselves were made public months ago.
The first charge against Ziegler says that he “knowingly and willfully stated, delivered, or transmitted by any means to any publisher, or employee of a publisher, of any newspaper, magazine, or other publication or any owner, or employee of an owner, of any radio station, television station, news service, or cable service, any false and untrue statement, knowing that it was false or untrue, about any person or corporation, with the intent that the same be published or broadcast.”
It says that he said what he did on June 22, 2021. That was the day of the Loudoun County School Board meeting where the sexual assaults were talked about very loudly. A witness told the special grand jury that Ziegler told “a bald-faced lie” when he said, “To my knowledge, we have no records of assaults happening in our bathrooms,” at a meeting, a month after an assault had just happened.
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Ziegler said right after the meeting that his comments were about people who were in those bathrooms because the school system has a policy for transgender people. The second and third indictments against Ziegler are from September 28 of this year. They say that Ziegler punished Erin Brooks “for expressing views on matters of public concern” and for going to court.
Brooks was one of two teachers who worked with special needs students and sued the school board in June. Brooks said she was treated unfairly when her contract wasn’t renewed after she said a student had sexually assaulted her multiple times.
According to the lawsuit, LCPS did not follow and enforce its policies when it dealt with Brooks’ reports of sexual assault, and the decision not to renew her contract was a way of punishing her for filing two Title IX complaints, testifying before the special grand jury investigating the school system, and making public comments at a June 7 school board meeting.
The school system said the student was a nonverbal elementary school student with severe intellectual disabilities whose actions were being misinterpreted. The school system’s statement said the teachers shared students’ records without permission, which Brooks and the other teacher denied.
Byard is said to have lied under oath on August 2. Victoria LaCivita, a spokeswoman for Miyares, told WTOP that the special grand jury has not yet been sent home. On Tuesday, Ziegler and Byard are supposed to go to court.
Ziegler said in a statement on Tuesday that the grand jury process was “controlled by the Attorney General, secret, and one-sided.” He also said that the accusations were “false and irresponsible” and that they came from “partisan forces” in Loudoun County “that has split our community.” He also said, “I will fight hard for myself.”
The Attacks On
After he and Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office at the beginning of the year, Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares asked for the grand jury to be set up. During their campaigns, they both said bad things about the school system.
The grand jury report says the first attack happened in a girls’ bathroom stall at Stone Bridge in May 2021. The student was charged in juvenile court and told by the judge that she couldn’t go back to Stone Bridge. Then, he was moved to Broad Run High School, which was close by. The second attack happened there in October 2021. He was found guilty of both assaults in juvenile court.
The report says that teachers at both schools told school officials about the student’s strange behavior weeks before each attack. The report says that even the student’s grandmother spoke up and told the student’s probation officer that her grandchild was a “sociopath.”
How Parents Reacted
Parents of the girl who was sexually assaulted at Broad Run High School talked about how hard it has been for them to deal with the situation.
“One thing we think is important to mention is that in the 14 months since our daughter was attacked, not a single member of the school board, LCPS administration, or even our local high school leadership has reached out to see how she is doing, offer help, or even apologize for what our family is going through. “That alone shows how hard this whole thing has been for us,” they said in a statement.
“Parents must feel like they can send their children to a safe place to learn. The people who live in this county are great, and we need our elected officials and public servants to represent them and show that. The victim’s lawyer, Patrick M. Regan, said something about the grand jury report.
Regan said, “My client is a child who has been sexually assaulted.” “The family of the victim and I have promised to work hard to get justice for their daughter.”
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