Story at a glance
- Parents of students in Loudoun County, Va., demanded resignations from the entire school board and superintendent for covering up a sexual assault report.
- An email to school board members from Superintendent Scott Ziegler shows he was aware of the alleged assault a month before denying any knowledge of it.
- Some parents blamed the school system’s transgender policy change for the assault, which took place in a school restroom. The policy was adopted after the assault.
A Virginia school board meeting Tuesday evening erupted into chaos as parents demanded widespread resignations after an email surfaced suggesting the school system had covered up a sexual assault report filed in May.
Parents of students in Loudoun County said Superintendent Scott Ziegler, along with the entire school board, suppressed a sexual assault allegation made by a female student at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Va., citing a confidential email that was recently made public.
Dozens of students at multiple county schools, including Stone Bridge, staged a walkout prior to the meeting to show solidarity with abuse victims.
The email, sent by Ziegler to school officials immediately following the allegation made on May 28, said the student had accused a male student of assaulting her in a restroom and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office was investigating the incident. Few other details were provided.
A month later, Ziegler claimed to have no knowledge of the reported crime.
The alleged assault was not made public until the same male student was charged earlier this month with groping another girl inside a classroom at Broad Run High School, also in Ashburn, on Oct. 6.
A Virginia juvenile court judge found sufficient evidence on Monday to sustain charges that the teenager sexually assaulted the girl in the bathroom, The Washington Post reports.
In a statement issued on Oct. 15, Ziegler apologized for failing to “provide the safe, welcoming, affirming environment that we aspire to provide,” and said his “heart aches” for the families and students involved in both incidents.
The family of the girl in the May 28 case is filing a civil suit against the school system. The girl’s name and those of her family are not identified as she is a minor.
Her parents also say the student who assaulted their daughter was “gender fluid,” according to The Washington Post.
The teen’s attorney said that the two students had consensual encounters twice before, and the teen told detectives that the assault briefly and accidentally occurred when a knee-length skirt he was wearing got caught on his watch as the two were together in the bathroom, according to The Post.
Parents at the Tuesday meeting pushed back against the school system’s recent transgender policy change, which allows students to use a name and pronouns that reflect their gender identity, regardless of what has been recorded in the students’ educational record. The policy, known as policy 8040, also permits students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their “consistently asserted gender identity.”
The policy was adopted after the May assault, The Washington Post reports.
“You are so concerned with pushing race and gender that you sacrificed our children,” Patti Hidalgo Menders, president of the Loudoun County GOP Women’s Club, told board members at the meeting. “A girl was sexually assaulted in May, and you all knew about it. The predator was put back in schools to sexually assault another girl. You all should be fired.
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