Students in Loudoun County, Virginia, are planning a walkout in protest of recent sexual assault cases at the public school system and to show solidarity with victims of such abuses.
“Students who choose to participate will not be penalized for their participation; however, we do ask that students who participate do so peacefully, without signage, and in accordance with the Students Rights and Responsibilities we all reviewed and signed at the beginning of the year,” said Michelle Luttrell, the principal at Loudoun County High School, according to WUSA.
A judge found a boy guilty on Monday of sexually assaulting a girl in the girl’s bathroom last spring at Stone Bridge High School. The boy was reportedly wearing a skirt during the incident.
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The girl’s father, Scott Smith, said he plans to file a lawsuit against the school system over the matter.
Smith gained national attention when he was arrested at a school board meeting on June 22 in a scene that was recorded and spread on social media. He was found guilty of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in August after his arrest.
“We are relieved that justice was served today for the Smith’s daughter. This horrible incident has deeply affected the Smith family, and they are grateful for today’s outcome,” the law firm representing the family said in a statement after the judge’s ruling.
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A second charge against the boy is still pending. He is also accused of forcing a female classmate into an empty room at Broad Run High School and groping her.
Students at Stone Bridge, Broad Run and Riverside and other schools are planning to participate in the walkout on Tuesday. They plan to leave class for 10 minutes in protest, and organizers have asked students and teachers to wear white and make protest signs, WUSA reported.
Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Ziegler acknowledged on Oct. 15 that current policies are not adequate in addressing sexual assault cases following the incidents.
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“I want to acknowledge that our processes and procedures were not adequate to respond to these recent events,” Ziegler said. “It has become clear that our administrative procedures have not kept pace with the growth we have seen in our county.”
An email from May 28 and revealed this month shows Ziegler telling the school board about the sexual assault allegation that took place in the bathroom at Stone Bridge. At the June school board meeting where Smith was arrested, however, Ziegler declared that “the predator transgender student or person simply does not exist,” and that to his knowledge, “we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms.”
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He later apologized for the system not providing a safe environment for students.
“First, let me say to the families and students involved — my heart aches for you and I am sorry that we failed to provide the safe, welcoming, and affirming environment that we aspire to provide,” he said.
The email revelation has since sparked calls for Ziegler and the school board to step down, including from Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin.
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“It’s outrageous,” Youngkin told Fox News on Saturday. He said the email “simply confirms what we know, which is we had administrators at a school board who have been covering this up. I mean, they tried to hide it from parents, they’ve hidden it from the public, and they actually endangered students by moving this young man – who in fact was being prosecuted for a sexual assault in another school – and enabled it to happen again.”