Two teachers in cuffs. Just another week in Loudoun County Public Schools.
Last week saw the months-long investigation into Loudoun County High School teacher Alison Briel come to a head with Briel's arrest and three charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Briel, who pleaded guilty Monday, sent salacious pictures to several of her juvenile boy students via the Snapchat app. She went so far as to ask one of the boys if he'd like to consummate the relationship – although her language was a bit more direct.
A couple days later, Mill Run Elementary School teacher Brian K. Chamer was charged with public intoxication and having alcohol on school property.
These incidents, of course, come amid a horrific 10 months for Loudoun County Public Schools administration. A non-exhaustive review recalls:
-A Loudoun County Public Schools bus driver being charged April 12 with felony possession, distribution and exhibition of sexually explicit material involving minors.
-A 30-year-old reading instructor, Samuel Hermens, was arrested in late 2018 at Woodgrove High School and charged with three felony counts of unlawful filming. He was reportedly walking near high school cheerleaders and taking secret images of them in their uniforms.
-Also in the 2018-2019 school year, members of the Tuscarora High School football team allegedly perpetrated a sexual assault in the locker room while the parents who were supposed to be in charge were asleep at the wheel.
What else … what else …
-Oh, we almost forgot, last month a former Tuscarora student casually strolled into the Leesburg school with a gun.
Still, not a public peep on the incidents from Superintendent Eric Williams. In his defense, he probably doesn't have time to respond to all the criminal charges facing the school system's employees.
Loudoun County Public Schools spokesman Wayde Byard said LCPS reached out to the communities involved in last week's incidents, but there was nothing from the man in charge.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: At what point do Loudoun's kids come first? When do parents' right to know trump the school system's reckless determination to maintain a glowing reputation?
We agree with LCPS that there are benefits of community schooling and letting individual schools' leadership handle their respective problems. But there is also something to be said for leadership from the top – or, in this case, lack thereof.
When a school system has seen as many alarming incidents and arrests as Loudoun County Public Schools, it's time for the chief executive to say something. A smidgen of leadership isn't too much to ask for a public official making nearly $300,000 a year.
Williams' non-existent voice in the face of what appears to be systemic hiring and training problems at LCPS is deeply distressing. With school shootings erupting on a monthly basis, the school system's CEO should be front and center, working to ensure confidence and calm anxious parents' fears. When it comes to that test, Williams gets an F.
Editor's note: Less than one hour after this opinion piece was published online, the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office reported another Loudoun County Public Schools instructor had been arrested at school for public intoxication.