Loudoun County Courthouse

A view from outside the Loudoun County Courthouse.

The Loudoun County School Board is seeking to halt a special grand jury investigation into its handling of a pair of sexual assault cases at two high schools, according to motion filed recently in the Loudoun County Circuit Court.

Steven Webster, the attorney who is representing the School Board, filed the motion late last month for an investigation led by the Virginia Attorney General’s Office. The filing was first reported by WTOP.

“Loudoun County Public Schools remains ready and willing to cooperate with any lawful inquiry by the Virginia Attorney General,” said Wayde Byard, a spokesperson with LCPS.

“However, we believe that the scope of the Attorney General’s investigation is overly broad and holds significant potential to invade the privacy of our students, staff and families,” he said. “LCPS also believes the investigation violates our locally elected School Board’s constitutional authority to govern. For these reasons, LCPS has filed a complaint for a temporary injunction to limit the scope of the Attorney General’s investigation.”

More than a month ago, news surfaced that a grand jury convened to investigate the cases last year at two Loudoun County Public Schools, LCPS confirmed with the Times-Mirror.

Earlier this month, the Times-Mirror reported that school records, specifically that included student records, were being subpoenaed in the commonwealth’s ongoing investigation with LCPS.

It was not immediately clear why student records were subpoenaed.

A spokesperson with the Attorney General’s Office was quick to condemn the motion in an email to the Times-Mirror Friday morning.

“Asking for an injunction is just the latest in a series of efforts to prevent the citizens of Loudoun from learning the truth about conditions existing in Loudoun County public schools that promote criminal activity, proving this investigation is warranted and necessary,” said Victoria LaCivita, a spokesperson with the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, in a prepared statement.

“This injunction is a waste of taxpayer money and the investigation will continue,” she said.

In January, Gov. Glenn Younkin (R) signed Executive Order Four, requesting that the Attorney General conduct a full investigation into Loudoun County Public Schools, specifically the school division’s handling of the assault cases of which a high school teenager assaulted two girls at two separate schools, Stone Bridge and Broad Run, last May and October.

Webster claimed in his motion that the executive order is “unlawful” and the attorney general “had no authority to seek impaneling the special grand jury.”

“This proceeding is unlawful, and it should be immediately ended before further irreparable harm is done to the LCPS employees, students and parents who have been targeted by the Attorney General’s investigation,” Webster wrote.

On Jan. 12, the teenager was found guilty of sexual assault and abduction, and ordered to an undisclosed residential treatment center.

Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Ziegler and the School Board directed LCPS staff to take several steps to help protect students from such incidents happening in the future, according to an April 13 statement.

Additionally, the release states that LCPS has expanded the size and scope of its Title IX office by hiring a full-time Title IX Coordinator and additional investigative staff, expanded the Office of Division Counsel to better assist staff with issues relating to legal compliance.

LCPS also made personnel actions and created a more robust process for alternative school placements.

Furthermore, LCPS has audited harassment and discrimination complaints raised over the past school year to ensure that such complaints had been addressed appropriately, and LCPS has provided, and will continue to provide, additional training to staff to reinforce the understanding of their obligations when they receive allegations of sexual harassment or assault, according to the release.

Circuit Court Judge James Plowman denied the request from Fight for Schools, a local political action group, to release the “independent review” of the school division’s handling of a pair of the assault cases.

LCPS, which commissioned the review, has previously said the report would not be made public.

The Attorney General’s Office has also faced criticism, most notably by leaders in northern Virginia and Loudoun County, since February.

Chuck Slemp, the newly appointed Chief Deputy Attorney General of Virginia, was criticized for his “inappropriate” remarks at the opening ceremony for the Virginia Association of Counties’ Local Government Day in Richmond, as previously reported.

Slemp was touting investigations by the attorney general’s office, including turning his attention to Loudoun County Public Schools, which he said “covered up the sexual assault on the school grounds, which led to another sexual assault of a young girl.”

Four Loudoun County supervisors and a Leesburg Town Council Member, who were in attendance, walked out over comments.

In the same month, Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-33rd, and Del. Suhas Subramanyam, D-86th, both of whom represent Loudoun County, called into question the ethics of an email, which seemingly tied an investigation of Loudoun County Public Schools by the Virginia Attorney Generals’ Office to a request by an official in the A.G.’s office for appointment to a job at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Subramanyam said in February the investigation is “tainted and “politically motivated” since the email surfaced.

In February, Boysko said a number of “alarming things” have come from the attorney general’s office since Miyares took office in January, including the firing of Tim Heaphy, who served as counsel and senior assistant attorney general at the University of Virginia, the potential quid pro quo email and the resignation of an attorney for praising the rioters on Jan. 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol and falsely claiming President Donald Trump’s election.

LaCivita in an earlier interview has denied any claims that the investigation is partisan or political in nature, and added that the special counsel leading the investigation is Theo Stamos, a Democrat and former elected Commonwealth’s Attorney in Arlington County.

In 2014, Stamos led a special grand jury investigation against former Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio that ultimately led to the dismissal of the recall petition.

Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson from the governor’s office, said in email to the Times-Mirror “it is troubling that the board will not want to cooperate. What are they hiding?”

(1) comment

romano

what are they hiding, indeed. The most corrupt board in my many years in Loudoun. Be afraid for your kids.

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