Loudoun4All Responds to the Firing of Dr. Ziegler and Calls for the Resignation of Sheriff Chapman
Following the release of the Grand Jury Report on LCPS, the School Board voted unanimously tonight, December 6th, 2022 to fire Superintendent [Scott] Ziegler. Loudoun4All supports the School Board’s decision to fire Dr. Ziegler following the revelations from the Grand Jury Report as to the mishandling of the sexual assaults last year. It follows the firing, in January, 2022 of then LCPS Chief of Staff, Mark Smith, who was terminated likely as a result of his failure to meet the requirement of filing a Title IX investigation at the time the first assault was reported.
The firing of Dr. Ziegler and Mark Smith are important steps toward accountability from LCPS. We hope, however, that these steps will not be taken as the only solution to the problems revealed in the Grand Jury Report. All too often a scapegoat is used in these situations to appease the public, instead of making systemic changes. There is still a pressing need to address the communications and policy failures revealed in the report. We hope that, as a community, we will still advocate for those changes.
However, Dr. Ziegler is not the only leader who needs to be held accountable.
Although the Grand Jury Investigation targeted Loudoun County Public Schools, the report detailed serious problems with other agencies, in particular Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. The report makes clear that the LCSO did not take the initial assault allegations seriously and as such may have delayed the investigation:
“We heard testimony that the LCSO “did not see fit” to charge or arrest the assailant in the wake of the May 28 sexual assault, but that the calculus changed after the June 22, 2021 school board meeting where the father of the victim was arrested, the sexual assault became highly publicized, and Loudoun County was put into the national spotlight…..Additionally, after interviewing the victim on May 28 and the assailant on June 1, the LCSO collected very little additional evidence”
The fact that LCSO did not want to pursue charges initially was one of the most shocking allegations of the Grand Jury Report. Community outrage should not be a factor that the Sheriff considers when deciding whether or not to pursue the investigation of a brutal rape.
In addition, the report highlights the broken relationship between LCPS and LCSO and how it contributed to the failures in the handling of the case.
“Several witnesses testified the sheriff and superintendent are not on speaking terms and tension exists between the leadership of LCPS and LCSO. The citizens of Loudoun County deserve better than two high-profile individuals publicly squabbling and refusing to put aside any petty differences.”
“It is important to point out the lack of cooperation between LCPS and LCSO was an underlying issue throughout summer 2021. This unquestionably contributed to LCPS’ delinquency in opening the Title IX investigation into the SBHS sexual assault. Though the charging of the SBHS assailant in early July should have been enough for the chief of staff, under his interpretation, to launch a Title IX investigation, LCSO refused to provide the actual charges to LCPS.”
In light of the revelations from the Grand Jury Report, Loudoun4All believes that while the School Board firing Dr. Ziegler was an important step toward accountability for the failures revealed in the Grand Jury report, it cannot be the only step. For his failure to take the initial charges of assault until he was forced to by the public outcry, for his failure to cooperate with LCPS, and for his refusal to provide the charges to LCPS, Loudoun4All feels that Sheriff [Michael] Chapman also needs to resign.