Parents in the Tuscarora High School community and across Loudoun County are outraged.
And they should be.
Over the past month they have been subjected to abject failures from Loudoun County Public Schools administration. From Superintendent Eric Williams, who is becoming alarmingly skilled at apologies, to Tuscarora Principal Pamela Croft, whose tone deaf response has been nothing short of astounding, the systemic protectionism within Loudoun County Public Schools has reached dangerous levels.
Children are being bullied, assaulted and weighing suicide within the walls of Loudoun's schools, but administrators' biggest concerns appear to be that someone will find out.
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?
It's a point we hate to concede, but we've become convinced that Loudoun's success in the classroom, strong test scores and high state rankings are in spite of – not thanks to – the current Loudoun County Public Schools administration. It's a shame Williams, Croft and Co. have cast such a gray cloud on hard-working educators inside Loudoun's classrooms.
There are times when doing the right thing is all that matters. This is one of those times.
Here are some facts about Loudoun County Public Schools' most recent problems.
It took the school system nearly 10 days to notify the Tuscarora community about an alleged heinous assault that occurred on school property. The disclosure came only after the allegations were reported by this newspaper.
These allegations go further than schoolyard fisticuffs. As described by numerous people to the Times-Mirror, the attack was a rape of a defenseless student, plain and simple.
Principal Croft's response during a Tuesday meeting with parents? That Tuscarora is “safe and has never been deemed unsafe.” Tell that to those with stories of bullying, athlete favoritism and inaction from Tuscarora's supposed leaders.
Through at least two messages to parents, Croft has failed to acknowledge any communication shortcomings. A reminder: School officials waited 10 days after the incident occurred and five days after they say they learned about it to alert parents.
Up the road in Lucketts came an equally egregious misstep, though fortunately no one was physically harmed during the situation that recently unfolded there.
At Lucketts Elementary, it took the school system more than a month to notify parents that the reason for a sheriff's office school resource officer's presence was because someone had made a threat against a school staffer.
Parents asked, and the school system evaded. When parents demanded answers, Williams finally sent a letter to the school community apologizing "for the missteps that have been made during our handling of this matter during the last two months.”
“As far as communication, it was just kind of like a one-two punch,” Laura Jane Dimbylow, who has children at both Tuscarora and Lucketts, told the Times-Mirror.
Not to diminish the pain and concern that faces Ms. Dimbylow and parents like her, but the feeling is no doubt less intense than the torture felt by the reported victim and his family at Tuscarora. Our thoughts and condolences are with them. We can't possibly grasp what they're going through – we can only support their recovery.
Hopefully the chiefs at Loudoun County Public Schools find the time to communicate the same.