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Loudoun Co. former superintendent Ziegler, school official indicted by special grand jury

7News has learned that two Loudoun County Public Schools officials, including former superintendent Scott Ziegler, were indicted by a special grand jury. (Image: LCPS)
7News has learned that two Loudoun County Public Schools officials, including former superintendent Scott Ziegler, were indicted by a special grand jury. (Image: LCPS)
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Loudoun County Public Schools former superintendent Scott Ziegler and the school system's public information officer Wayde Byard were indicted by a special grand jury following an investigation into two sexual assaults.

A Loudoun County judge ordered Monday that the documents be unsealed, according to a release from Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares. The indictments were handed up by a special grand jury, which was empaneled in April at the request of Miyares.

A true bill was returned against Ziegler on June 14 along with two additional indictments against him on Sept. 28, Miyares' office said.

The special grand jury also issued a fourth indictment the same day against LCPS public information officer Byard, according to a release.

Ziegler is facing misdemeanor charges of false publication, prohibited conduct, and penalizing an employee for a court appearance. Byard was indicted on one count of felony perjury.

RELATED | Report released in Loudoun Co. schools sexual assaults -- here's what was uncovered

The Office of the Attorney General will prosecute the cases.

Loudoun County Public Schools said since the release of the indictment, Byard has been placed on leave without pay in accordance with the LCPS Policy and Virginia State Code.

"Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) is aware of the indictments that the Special Grand Jury issued that were unsealed today. As a result, Mr. Wayde Byard, Public Information Officer, was placed on leave today in accordance with LCPS Policy and Virginia State Code.

While LCPS will await any additional updates from the Special Grand Jury, LCPS plans to address the recommendations of the Special Grand Jury in the School Board’s December 13, 2022 work session. The Board will consider policy-related and process improvements to implement to further ensure the safety and care of all LCPS staff and students and restore trust within our community."

Scott Smith, the father of one of the students who was sexually assaulted held a press conference Monday afternoon following the announcement of the indictments.

Smith was asked what he would have liked to say to Ziegler and Byard if they were right there in front of him.

"I wish I could have seen you guys in handcuffs," Smith said. "It looks like it got you now."

ALSO READ | Father of LCPS sex assault victim says grand jury report confirms lack of transparency

The report resulted from an investigation into sexual assaults, at two different high schools, by the same male student inside Loudoun County Public Schools. The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department confirmed a sexual assault occurred in a bathroom at Stone Bridge High School on May 28, 2021. Then on Oct. 6, a sheriff’s department tweet detailed another alleged assault by the same student at Broad Run High School. A 15-year-old boy was convicted of the two sex assaults and was sentenced to complete a "residential program in a locked-down facility."

Miyares first posted the 91-page report investigating the incidents following the special grand jury's review of testimony from more than 40 witnesses and 100 pieces of evidence submitted on record. In the report, the special grand jury believes top LCPS administrators were looking out for their own interests instead of the best interest of the school system. They note that there was evidence that further shows a lack of transparency and accountability throughout the investigation. You can read the report here.

On Tuesday, both the attorney for and the family of the Stone Bridge High School student who was sexually assaulted in the girls' restroom by a boy claiming to be "gender fluid" responded to the indictments related to the aftermath of the incident involving their daughter's attack.

Scott and Jessica Smith, parents of the student, stated:

"From the very beginning, we were determined as parents to not let the Loudoun County public school system sweep what happened to our daughter and another parents' daughter "under the rug, as they repeatedly tried to do. And, we are as determined now as we were back then not to remain silent as they wanted us to be. Today, we stand stronger than ever as a family in a determined fight to do everything in our power to ensure that no other child and their families suffer in the way that we have. The recently released Report of The Special Grand Jury empaneled to investigate this matter is alarming, and the grand jury's conclusions have clearly demonstrated that the indifference and inexcusable negligence by Loudoun County Public Schools and its School Board caused immeasurable harm to two young women. It is without question that these students didn't deserve what happened to them, and it has now been proven that Loudoun County knew that they had a predator in their schools, and yet they did nothing to stop him. Their grievous errors have caused our family irreparable harm."

"The assault on our daughter and the subsequent assault by the same individual of another young lady were both predictable and preventable. Today's release of the indictments of Loudoun County Public School officials is an important step in this process, but it is only a starting point by which we seek to right the wrongs committed.

Disgraced LCPS Superintendent Scott Ziegler may now be scarred with the consequences of future misdemeanor convictions, but it does not compare to the permanent scars that his misdeeds have caused families who entrusted their daughters into his care and protection at our public schools.

Today, we continue this fight. And while we feel vindicated, we are still resolute -- and we will not be satisfied until both justice is served, and significant changes are made that will protect our children from harm."

On Dec. 6, the Loudoun County school board entered a closed session and voted unanimously to fire Ziegler without cause. 7News obtained Ziegler's contract, which states that he is entitled to receive compensation over a 12-month period of his annual salary which is more than $300,000.

On Thursday, the Loudoun County school board appointed Dr. Daniel Smith as the school division’s interim superintendent in an emergency meeting.

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RELATED | Loudoun Co school board names Daniel Smith interim superintendent following Ziegler firing

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