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Fired LCPS superintendent, spokesperson indicted by special grand jury investigating handling of sex assaults

The two Loudoun County school officials were charged in September, but a judge just ordered the indictments unsealed.

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. — Two Loudoun County officials, including former Superintendent Scott Ziegler, were indicted by a special grand jury after a months-long investigation into the school system's handling of two sexual assaults on campus.

In a report released Dec. 5, the grand jury investigation concluded that there were significant shortfalls in communication, that "failed" to prevent the second assault, but no evidence of a coordinated coverup.

On Monday, a Loudon County judge ordered the unsealing of the indictments that were issued as a result of the grand jury that had been empaneled at the request of Attorney General Jason Miyares in April. 

Former Superintendent Scott Ziegler was indicted for one count of misdemeanor false publication, one count of misdemeanor prohibited conduct and one count of misdemeanor penalizing an employee for a court appearance. LCPS spokesperson Wayde Byard was indicted for one count of felony perjury.

The grand jury called for the first charge against Ziegler on June 14. Two more indictments were issued against Ziegler and one against Byard on Sep. 28, according to Miyares' office.

In a statement Monday, LCPS announced that Byard was placed on leave "in accordance with LCPS Policy and Virginia state code." 

"While LCPS will await any additional updates from the Special Grand Jury, LCPS plans to address the recommendations of the Special Grand Jury in the School Board’s December 13, 2022 work session," the school district wrote in a statement. "The Board will consider policy-related and process improvements to implement to further ensure the safety and care of all LCPS staff and students and restore trust within our community."

Word of the indictments came nearly one week after Ziegler was fired by the Loudoun County School Board in a unanimous vote. Board members approved to fire him without cause effective immediately on Dec. 6. Dr. Daniel Smith, former chief of staff, was appointed as acting superintendent by the Loudoun County School Board two days later. Ziegler will still be paid for 12 months based on the severance deal listed in his current contract, which includes a $28,000 raise plus additional benefits.

The father of one of the assault victims called the indictments a victory that will help to bring down "the wall between LCPS and the moms and dads of Loudoun County," but wants to see further action. 

"This is just the beginning, this isn’t the end," said Scott Smith. "Our victory will be short-lived if we don’t get the school board to make major changes like a step down." 

Elicia Brand with Army of Parents told WUSA9 she was happy about the indictments. 

"Parents of Loudoun County have been screaming this from the rooftop for the last 18 months," she said.

Brand did tell WUSA9 she was a little surprised by Byard's indictment. 

"He is looked up to as a hero by students parents and teachers alike," she said. "He's the snow day guy."

But now, she said, "He went from snow day hero to lying zero".

Other parent groups also reacted to the news on Twitter, like Loudoun 4 All and Fight For Schools

“I am disappointed that an Attorney General-controlled, secret, and one-sided process — which never once sought my testimony — has made such false and irresponsible accusations,” Scott Ziegler wrote in a statement to The Washington Post. “I will vigorously defend myself. I look forward to a time when the truth becomes public.”

Ziegler and Byard are expected to make their first court appearances on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

WATCH NEXT: Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent fired one day after investigation into sex assaults on school grounds

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