US Education Department launches civil rights investigation into Loudoun County Schools over sexual assaults  

by Jacob Fuller

Matt Bush, FISM News

Loudoun County Public School System (LCPS) is being investigated over its response to two sexual assaults that occurred in 2021 in high schools in the district. Both assaults were perpetrated by the same male student, who claimed to be a transgender girl.

The U.S. Department of Education initiated a federal civil rights investigation through its office for civil rights (OCR) based on a complaint filed by Ian Prior, a senior adviser at America First Legal. The complaint against LCPS alleges that the school system “failed to respond as required by Title IX to the notice of sexual assault in the systems’ high schools.”

“Because OCR has determined that it has jurisdiction and that the complaint was timely filed, OCR is opening the complaint for investigation,” the department said in a letter to Prior. “Based on the information you provided, OCR will investigate … whether the school division is failing to respond as required by Title IX to notice of sexual assault in School Division high schools.”

The initial assault took place in May 2021 and was the focus of a school board meeting the following month. At that public school board meeting, according to a previous FISM article, more than 600 parents were kicked out or barred from entering.

The parents showed up at the meeting to question the school system’s transgender bathroom policy, the same policy that allowed the male perpetrator to sexually assault the female student in the girls’ bathroom. It was because of this meeting that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland released a memo comparing concerned parents to domestic terrorists.

The male perpetrator was transferred to a different school within LCPS prior to the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Just four months after that board meeting, in October 2021, he assaulted another female student at a different high school.

The assaults drew national attention to Loudoun County and have been highly politicized over the past couple of years. The male student was found guilty of sexual battery, abduction, and two counts of sodomy. In addition, former superintendent Scott Ziegler and spokesman Wayde Byard are facing criminal charges related to the assaults and the school board initiated an internal investigation to review its handling of the 2021 assaults. The results of that investigation were never released.

Ian Prior was an LCPS father prior to moving his daughters to a different school. He urged all of those following the events in Loudoun County to take politics out of the equation and focus on making schools safe for children.

“This is about protecting students from sexual assault and sexual harassment,” Prior said. “And it’s important that the politics are taken out of this, and they do a thorough investigation to make sure that these problems are remedied.”

Scott Smith is the father of the girl who was assaulted in May and was famously arrested at the June school board meeting. He was not as confident in the federal investigation.

“The U.S. Dept. of Education now declaring that it will investigate LCPS for potential Title IX violations is meaningless. It’s like the National School Board, who branded me a domestic terrorist, saying that they are going now to investigate the harm put upon my family — it’s biased, and the only result that the USDOE will come to is that Loudoun did everything right, in order to protect it from truth and reason,” Smith said.

A spokesperson for Loudoun County Public Schools said the district was “aware of the investigation and will cooperate fully.”