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LCPS superintendent fired after Grand Jury report into sex assaults on school grounds is released

Dr. Scott Ziegler has previously been quoted acknowledging that the school district did not handle the situation adequately.

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. — Loudoun County officials have confirmed Dr. Scott Ziegler is out as the superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools.

The announcement comes one day after the results of a grand jury investigation of two sexual assaults on school grounds in May and October 2021, along with officials' lacking responses. 

The vote to fire Ziegler, following a closed-door session at a school board meeting Tuesday, was unanimous. Board members approved to fire him without cause effective immediately. 

He will still be paid for 12 months based on the severance deal listed in his current contract, which included a $28,000 raise plus additional benefits. 

LCPS has scheduled an emergency meeting on Thursday night to designate Chief of Staff Dr. Daniel Smith as acting superintendent.

Details on what the search will look like have yet to be finalized, according to LCPS spokesperson Wayde Byard.

"I was cautiously optimistic about the school board taking such an action," Loudoun County parent Michael Rivera, who was also a board member candidate in the recent election, told WUSA9. "To be honest, I didn't think they were going to do it. I'm glad they did it but to me, I think it was reactionary."

The investigation looked into the assault of two female students by the same boy at two different Loudoun County schools last year. 

The perpetrator, who was 14 at the time of the initial assault in May, has since been sentenced to complete a sex offender in-patient program and was placed on supervised probation until his 18th birthday, according to the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney. Initially, a judge said the teen would be required to register as a sex offender, but that ruling was eventually reversed.

The grand jury -- which the county school board requested to disband, but a judge ultimately overruled, followed by the Virginia Supreme Court -- stated that LCPS administrators were looking out for their own best interests instead of the best interests of the school community.

Ziegler has previously been quoted acknowledging that the school district did not handle the situation adequately.

"I want to acknowledge that our processes and procedures were not adequate to respond to these recent events," Ziegler said in October 2021. "It has become clear that our administrative procedures have not kept pace with the growth we have seen in our county."

Following the report, elected officials including Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall also called for his resignation. She said the details in the report were "horrifying" and "tragic."

"What stood out to me was the fact that the families of one of the daughters came to them numerous times and they were dismissed," Randall said. "What stood out to me was lack of willingness to brief the school board."

Although the school district is outside of her jurisdiction, Randall believed other officials should be let go.

"I do think other people should be because adults were aware," she said.

The backlash over the handling of the incidents quickly intensified and even garnered national attention. Several parent groups have called for his termination for more than a year.

Cheryl Onderchain has two daughters who attend Broad Run High School. She and other parents plan to gather again at the next school board meeting next Tuesday.

She agrees there needs to be more accountability and more positions terminated.

"School systems literally have one freaking job and that's to educate kids and keep them safe," Onderchain said. "LCPS clearly has failed there. We want them to do what is right and they really owe the whole community an apology and they should fall on their swords."

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