Trey Paul, FISM News
Parents in Loudon County, Virginia learned they would be kept in the dark Tuesday when the Loudon County School Board (LCSB) voted to not release the findings of an independent report detailing how two sexual assault cases were handled at two high schools in 2021.
The report is the result of an independent investigation requested by the school division after a 15-year-old male student — who identified as “gender-fluid” — was accused of raping a female student in the girl’s bathroom. Parents say the school covered up the sexual assault and even let that male student, despite facing charges, transfer to another school in the district where he’s accused of sexually assaulting another girl.
Investigators say the “gender-fluid” male student was wearing a skirt when he sexually assaulted the female student in the girl’s bathroom, bringing the school’s transgender policy under fire.
As for the independent report that could explain why that student was allowed to transfer, the Loudon County School Board says they aren’t releasing it because it’s subject to attorney-client privilege.
“Under the best of circumstances, waiving attorney-client privilege is fraught with pitfalls, which is why it is done exceedingly rarely. Being open and transparent is important, but so is the right of our students and staff to be able to communicate with legal counsel without it being made public — that is such an important principle that it’s one of the cornerstones of the American legal system,” said LCSB Chair Ian Serotkin. “Releasing the report would cause a subject matter waiver of every communication anyone in LCPS had with legal counsel broadly related to these incidents over the past year and a half. If I could disentangle the release of the report from that, I would. But we cannot.”
According to a news release from Loudon County Public Schools, the report contains “personally identifiable information regarding students.”
Under Virginia law, people are allowed to appeal a final school board decision to the local circuit court. The person appealing has to prove they were personally harmed by the decision, meaning the parents of the students who were assaulted could file an appeal.
Scott Smith, the father of one of the sexual assault victims, told FOX 5 D.C. that he’s not opposed to the idea of making an appeal. “It’s very important to get that report out so if our family and the other family could come to an agreement that we both want it out and a law firm wants to take this upon themselves, I would consider it,” said Smith. “I would put my name behind it. But at this point, we have to start healing as a family, and we’ve lost a lot of family treasure fighting this good fight.”
School Board member Erika Ogedegbe, who voted to not release the report, said she believed that even “a heavily redacted or summary report would draw more concerns about transparency from the general public.”
School Board member John Beatty, who made a motion to publicly release the report, told FISM News that serving as the “lone conservative” on the Loudon County School Board has “been like a hurricane the whole time.”
Then-gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin called for a full investigation of the Loudon County School board in October of 2021 before winning the governor’s race.
WATCH @GlennYoungkin with @kilmeade:
"I called for a full investigation of the #LoudounCounty school board, Loudoun County school superintendent and the Commonwealth Attorney because they are not standing up for children’s safety…" #VAGov #WinWithGlenn pic.twitter.com/DSTgCkLPDg
— Christian Martinez (@C_RMartinez) October 26, 2021
In April of that year, Gov. Youngkin amended a bill that placed all nine Loudon County School Board members on the ballot a year earlier than planned.
“The last few years just absolutely signified some real challenges with the Loudoun County School Board. And so in the spirit of transparency and accountability, my amendment gives parents the ability to elect their school board. This election can reflect the will of parents,” Gov. Youngkin told 7 News.
This morning, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin told @7NewsDC why he amended a bill in an effort to put all Loudoun County school board members on the ballot this November.
Story: https://t.co/UdanYuwuiY pic.twitter.com/sv3c95Nw4g
— Nick Minock (@NickMinock) April 12, 2022
“While the School Board has voted not to release the Blankingship & Keith Report, LCPS will remain focused on continuing to make improvements wherever we can and working toward our goal of empowering each student to maximize their potential and make meaningful contributions to the world,” stated acting Loudon County Superintendent Daniel Smith.