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Loudoun County School Board votes not to release of school sex assault report

Loudoun County School Board set to vote on release of school sex assault report. (7News)
Loudoun County School Board set to vote on release of school sex assault report. (7News)
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On Tuesday evening, the Loudoun County School Board voted to not force Loudoun County Public Schools administrators to release their independent review on how the school system handled two school sex assaults that happened in 2021.

Several parents have been calling for the release of this report for more than a year and former LCPS Superintendent Scott Ziegler and the new interim Superintendent have refused to that.

School Board member Tiffany Polifko put this vote on Tuesday’s school board agenda.

“Constituents are asking for transparency and have been requesting this report for over one year and their frustration and lack of trust grows daily,” said Polifko. “Board members are elected to represent the public body of stakeholders who fund and attend the schools. Constituents are communicating their desire for us to take the helm and act as leaders.”

There are nine school board members in Loudoun County.

In December, School Board members Polifko, John Beatty, Jeff Morse, Atoosa Reaser and Erika Ogedegbe signaled their support for releasing the ‘independent review’

If the five Loudoun County school board members stay true to their word -- the school system will be forced to waive attorney client privilege and release their own report on the school sex assaults.

The Loudoun School Board has been under scrutiny by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.

Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall wrote a letter to School Board Chair Ian Serotkin formally asking for the release of the independent review into the school sex assaults.

The rest of the board of Supervisors signed Randall’s letter to the school board chair except for Supervisor Juli Briskman.

LCPS has been hiding behind attorney client privilege for the reason why they aren’t releasing the report. But as Supervisor Kristen Umstattd explains --- the client can voluntarily waive privilege.

If the internal report had been released, the public would presumably have found out what the school board and what the Superintendent knew about the sex assaults and when they knew that information.

In December 2022, when the Attorney General’s special grand jury report was released, the School Board voted to fire Superintendent Scott Ziegler because of the information that was in the special grand jury report and the public scrutiny that came with it.

This is the letter the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors sent Loudoun County School Board Chair Serotkin and Vice Chair Harris Mahedavi on February 6, 2023:

Chairman Serotkin & Vice Chair Mahedavi,

Thank you for responding to the request from Vice Chair Saines and I regarding the release of the entire Blankingship & Keith report in response to the sexual assaults that occurred at Stone Bridge and Broad Run High Schools in 2021. I also appreciate the list of reforms that LCPS has instituted since these incidents were uncovered, particularly the effort to strengthen Title IX and to resolve gaps around the arrest-notification process with the Juvenile Court Service Unit.

As we both know — or should know — "attorney-client" privilege belongs to the client and not the attorney. Any client at any time can waive the privilege. It's important to point that out before going any further. Any claim of or allusion to a failure to release this report on this basis should be accurately framed as a choice and not a requirement.

There is understandable sensitivity around the release of attorney-client work product. However, I reiterate that LCPS could redact portions of the report containing legal advice and produce the remainder for public consumption. Furthermore, as waiving of attorney-client privilege is done on a case-by-case basis, there is no "precedent" that one would be required to adhere to in the future. There is no precedential value in LCPS, the client to whom the privilege belongs, waiving this privilege in this singular case.

Some have said that the Special Grand Jury's work and report were politically motivated. However, in the absence of any comprehensive disclosure of details by Loudoun County Public Schools, it stands alone as the public's only comprehensive view into the details of this case and that does not help LCPS or the County at large begin to heal and improve as it leaves open questions regarding the ongoing leadership. One of those very concerns — highlighted in the report — is an excessive dependence and mis-applicaiton of "attorney-client privilege" to shield the public from pertinent details regarding this matter.

As stated in the report,“School board members seem to labor under the belief that every discussion that takes place in the presence of division counsel, whether or not division counsel is even involved in the discussion, is subject to the attorney-client privilege, whether or not the communication is seeking legal advice or not, and whether or not circumstances of the discussion should even appropriately be considered confidential." Attorney-client privilege “should not be used as a shield that impedes transparency, accountability, and openness, especially when it comes to the operations of a public body.”

It is my fervent hope that LCPS reconsiders this stance and decides to release either the entire report with redactions regarding matters truly necessary to be shielded under attorney-client privilege or an executive summary the accomplishes the same goal. Anything less will leave the public and — frankly the Board of Supervisors — with grave concerns.


Phyllis J. Randall

Koran Saines

Tony Buffington

Kristen Umstattd

Caleb Kershner

Mike Turner

Matt LeTourneau

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Sylvia Glass

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