Last Updated on September 30, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Former Loudoun County School Superintendent Found Guilty of Retaliation
Scott Ziegler, the former superintendent of Loudoun County, Virginia, has been found guilty of using his position for retaliation. Specifically, he was convicted of retaliating against a special-education teacher by firing her. The charges against Ziegler stem from his decision not to renew the contract of elementary school teacher Erin Brooks.
Brooks had testified before a special grand jury investigating the school system’s handling of two sexual assaults by a high school student. While the allegations involving Brooks were unrelated to the sexual assaults, they focused on her being groped by a 10-year-old student and the school’s response. The special grand jury issued a scathing report in December 2022, which ultimately led to Ziegler’s firing by the school board.
During the trial, it was revealed that Ziegler had also been charged with punishing an employee for attending court. However, he was found not guilty on this charge. The maximum penalty for the retaliation charge is 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
The trial, which began on Monday, lasted longer than expected due to the unique nature of the charge. The retaliation charge Ziegler was convicted of had never been tried in a Virginia court before. This case has attracted significant attention due to the high-profile nature of the sexual assault investigations and the involvement of state officials.
Wayde Byard, a longtime school system spokesman, was also indicted in connection with the case but was acquitted of a felony perjury charge related to his testimony before the special grand jury. Ziegler himself also faces another misdemeanor charge regarding statements he made at a 2021 school board meeting following one of the sexual assaults. His trial for this charge is scheduled for February.
The outcome of the trial has raised questions about the accountability of school officials and the protection of whistleblowers within the education system. It serves as a reminder of the importance of fostering a safe and supportive environment for both students and staff in schools.