Internal Loudoun County School Board emails show a shifting explanation about how much school board members knew about a bathroom sex assault, with one member writing to the superintendent in the wake of cover-up allegations that he might have “missed an email” informing him about it — even though he previously responded to that very email asking a follow-up question, after also hearing about the incident from someone else.
“From my memory I recall” only learning about it “during the public comment process,” Democrat board member Harris Mahedavi wrote to the superintendent on October 12, one day after The Daily Wire revealed that a girl had been raped in a bathroom May 28, that the superintendent had denied it in a public board meeting June 22, and that the school system had quietly transferred the assailant to another school, where he was arrested for a different sex assault October 6.
As has been previously reported, immediately after the May rape, Ziegler wrote to the school board members saying, “The purpose of this email is to provide you with information regarding an incident that occurred at Stone Bridge HS. This afternoon a female student alleged that a male student sexually assaulted her in the restroom.”
Three weeks later, on June 22, Ziegler said in a public board meeting that “To my knowledge, we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms.” None of the school board members raised the discrepancy.
But a week after that, on June 28, it was on the mind of school board members, the newly obtained emails show.
Mahedavi replied to the May 28 email that day, writing: “Dr. Ziegler, Has there been any update on this case that you can share with the board?”
Ziegler replied: “This matter is under investigation by law enforcement, and I am unable to provide an update.”
The same day, school board member Beth Barts also wrote the superintendent, suggesting she had heard of a sexual assault from parents: “In addition to understanding where LCPS is in regards to the allegations of sexual assault (per the parents) I would like to know how LCPS will handle the rally Wednesday?”
Ziegler did not address the question about sexual assault in his reply but only informed her that he would lock up the administration building to make it “unavailable to attendees” at an event of angry parents. Barts — who asked the question to which Ziegler answered “no,” without bringing up the May incident — subsequently announced her resignation from the board.
The emails were released pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the parents’ group Fight For Schools.
The timeline bolsters a claim by Scott Pio, a Loudoun resident who is running for state delegate as a Republican. Pio told The Daily Wire (in an interview that was conducted before the release of the new emails, but which has not been previously published) that Mahedavi could not have been unaware of the sexual assault because he personally told him about it in late June.
“On June 26 I had a long 10-15 minute conversation and told Harris all about the sex assault in the school. We were at one of the mosques where I’m doing my campaigning. Harris prays there on Friday, he came up to me and at the prayer day they allow you two minutes to speak after prayers, so I spoke about a girl who was just sexually assaulted in our schools… Harris came up to me afterwards and we had a long conversation and he was unaware at the time, but after a 10-minute conversation he was. We certainly talked about that specific sexual assault,” Pio said. He said it occurred at the ADAMS Center. June 26 is a Saturday, so Pio likely meant June 25.
Mahedavi did not return a request for comment.
On October 12, the day after The Daily Wire revealed an apparent cover-up, Mahedavi wrote to the superintendent and his staff, apparently asking the superintendent what to tell a constituent who asked Mahedavi about his own knowledge:
One of my constituent [sic] has asked me the following questions.
1. When (date) did you learn of the allegations?
2. From whom did you learn of the allegations?
3. How was the information communicated to you?
I do not want to miss quote these answers. From my memory I recall I learnt about this incident during the public comment process, however I could have certainly missed an email from the administration. Could you please fwd me an email or communication that was sent to school board members on this topic.
Ziegler responded: “Good afternoon, Harris, The Board will receive a briefing on this matter this evening, but I recommend not responding to questions related to student matters.”
Ziegler later publicly apologized for his false statement at the June 22 meeting and for omitting the sexual assault from statistics that are legally required to be submitted to the state. But he also reiterated that school board members knew of the incident.
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