Superintendent Eric Williams

Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Eric Williams oversees a school system that has seen at least nine of its employees arrested over the past year. 

The email arrived shortly after nine Wednesday night. The request was both surreal and expressly understandable.

“I was wondering if you guys had a total number of teachers that were arrested this school year?” the parent asked. “I see the headlines all the time and have grown increasingly concerned … I tried doing the research around your website for headlines, but it became complicated due to so many.”

While we'll see what we can do to streamline our online search tool, we don't believe that was the reader's most pressing concern.

It's a conversation that comes up in the newsroom a few times a month. “How many teacher arrests have there been now?”

“Was that one this year or last year?”

“Oh yeah, I almost forgot about about that one.”

Suppose it's time for an arrested teacher tote board.

Last week saw another Loudoun County Public Schools employee in cuffs. Sixty-four-year-old Robert Skiffington, a second-grade teacher at Sugarland Elementary School in Sterling, was charged with simple assault and battery after allegedly kissing a juvenile student numerous times on the mouth and cheek. Skiffington is the fifth LCPS employee arrested in 2019. For the 2018-2019 school year altogether, there was roughly one employee arrest a month.

Indeed, Skiffington has only been charged and not convicted, and we believe fiercely in the presumption of innocence as an essential tenet of our justice system.

But we also believe – again, fiercely – that something is systemically awry with Loudoun County Public Schools' administration. How could we not? You should see our inboxes.

For years the complaints and fears from parents and teachers have been escalating. From Superintendent Eric Williams being holed up in the “Death Star” -- as the LCPS administration building in Ashburn has been dubbed by a group of teachers -- to high school principals' obliviousness about the goings-on in their halls and their locker rooms, parents' concerns are incontrovertible.

Here's more from the Wednesday email to one of our journalists.

“I was born and raised in Loudoun and went to school here my whole life,” the parent notes. “ … I know that I am not the only parent that is – I have spoken to several friends who have kids at multiple schools around the county, and this is becoming a real problem for us.”

We sympathize with the writer's sentiment. To the parent – and to anyone who believes, as we do, that changes must be made at LCPS – we urge you to make your voices heard. Contact your School Board representative. Speak at the public meetings – daunting as that may be. The powerful collective voice of parents will propel change.

(12) comments

BobOhneiserEsq

Scotva, Its really simple. If citizens want LCPS to improve they need to ask every School Board candidate if they will insist the Superintendent publish ALL bullying complaints, assaults etc. by school every month AND will insist parental input be included into EVERY LCPS employee performance review. If not then don't vote for them! Second, ask every school board candidate if they will insist that the metrics which the Superintendent's performance is measured be real and measurable not just a feel good best effort. Third, will they promise to put the Superintendent's contract renewal on a bi-annual basis not every four years so it can be evaluated by the same board that sets the goals to be met. Without such straight forward management practices which are actually REQUIRED by state statute you can expect to have a $400k level executive to hire $175k plus benefits "buffers" at will to cover over the lack of careful management of thousands of employees, protecting 80,000 students, efficiently managing 80 plus facilities, almost 1000 buses and over $1.3 billion of tax dollars. There is far more responsibility to being a school board member than playing cultural competency games and forcing national politics into local practices none of which helps our children to fairly compete in the world after high school.

scottva

I may have overlooked who wrote this story, but one sentence caught my eye: "For the 2018-2019 school year altogether, there was roughly one employee arrest a month." Unfortunately, whoever wrote this did not do much research. Heck, I'd be thrilled if it were only (1) LCPS employee arrested per month. However, this is 100% FAKE NEWS. IN THE PAST (30) DAYS, LCPS has made the news (14) DIFFERENT TIMES and it's not positive. Again, just the PAST (30) DAYS!! Is there a Superintendent on duty? This is Loudoun fricken County, the most sought after and wealthiest county in the US. At this rate, Loudoun County is quickly making another name for itself and it ain't good. This is an absolute disgrace and it goes right to the top. Williams is a disgrace and a liar: 1. Teacher Who Kissed 2nd-Grader On Mouth Charged With Assault: Cops 2. Second Loudoun County Public Schools teacher arrested this week; Sterling man charged with public intoxication at school 3. Loudoun Co. teacher charged with drinking at grade school; 3rd teacher arrest in 10 days 4. Three teachers arrested for separate incidents in Loudoun County within weeks 5. Loudoun Co. teacher to plead guilty to sending revealing photos to students 6. Suspected Drunk Teacher Arrested At Elementary School: LCSO 7. Intoxicated Gym Teacher Arrested at Virginia Elementary School: Sheriff 8. Ashburn teacher accused of being drunk after bottles of alcohol found in school 9. Special Education Teacher Accused of Drinking on the Job at Elementary School in Virginia 10. Loudoun County teacher admits to sending salacious pictures, soliciting sex from teenage students 11. Weiss: Searching for answers at Tuscarora High School (former student brings loaded gun to the school) 12. Virginia teacher accused of being drunk on the job 13. THONG GONE: Teacher sent raunchy pics, asked teens for sex 14. Parents voice concerns over safety and disarray in hallways at Loudoun Valley High School

CindyLou

Clearly it's a HR issue. There are hundreds of good teachers and employees wanting jobs and they seem to hire drunks, perverts and people that should clearly not be around children. Maybe we could all cut our taxes if we just hired a recruiting company to hire our teachers? There is no excuse for this nonsense....one bad teacher a year? maybe? 20 a year is disgusting.

Qwertyuiop

I’d be curious to see who screened/hired the trouble employees. Is there a pattern that can help lead to solutions?

riverman

Is it just the administration that needs a house cleaning or the entire BOD? Term limits come to mind here, but how many recall the cover-up of Edgar Hatrick's "retirement" when OD members were telling individuals after the fact that his "retirement" actually occured because the BOD refused to renew his contract. So now he heads Dodonna Manor or has he left there as well? Clearly some real transparency is needed in all aspects of Loudoun County Public Schools.

Livin'inLoCo

Before anyone starts commenting on what’s wrong - & right! - about LCPS, they need to be spending some of their time volunteering in the schools to see what they are speaking about. Attend a PTSA meeting at your neighborhood school, greet the students as they walk to or from school, contact the school and see what need they might have. After you’ve become involved with the children that are being educated in this system and the school they attend, then comment on what you feel are the issues.

David Dickinson

Yes, come join the evil club so they can wrap their webs around you. Absolutely not.

LocoAficionado

Lots of fingers pointed at LCPS about arrested employees. I’d like to hear solutions instead of this finger pointing.

romano

clean house. There's your suggestion. It starts at the top.

David Dickinson

1. School vouchers so parents will no longer be coerced into using the government schools. 2. Vote in an activist School Board. Generally speaking, the School Board is the only real influence the average citizen has on any school change. The administration is blind, deaf, and dumb to citizen concern.

Chris McHale

No, no, no, Dr. William's wrote a piece 2 weeks ago that said thanks to HIS initiatives everything is great. Clearly this is true since he has his finger on the pulse of our schools.

tolerantleft

Bigger government, less accountability. Look at the leaders (principals) at Tuscarora and Loudoun Valley. It's scary and sad.

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