A Virginia school district has been mired in controversy regarding an alleged sexual assault that took place in a school bathroom earlier this year.
In a decision this week, a juvenile court judge in Loudon County determined that there was “sufficient” evidence to convict a 15-year-old male student accused of assaulting a female student in May at Stone Bridge High School.
Public backlash intensifies
The county school district has been accused of attempting to cover up the allegation and the alleged victim’s father, Scott Smith, was arrested after causing a commotion at a board meeting shortly after the initial complaint.
According to WJLA, the teen suspect was found guilty on all charges against him. He has reportedly not been sentenced, however, because the judge wanted to wait for the conclusion of a separate trial involving the same student and the subsequent alleged sexual battery of a different female student at Broad Run High School.
As the case was being decided, students across the county participated in a coordinated walkout in support of the two female students and in protest of the district’s apparent efforts to deny or downplay the severity of the accusations.
Some of the student demonstrators accused the district of protecting a criminal while withholding information about a potential threat to other students.
Local parents have also expressed outrage, as reported by the Daily Caller. In addition to concerns about the curriculum being taught in public school classrooms, critics are protesting policies that allow biologically male students to use girls’ restrooms and demand answers from district leaders accused of mishandling the situation.
“Wrongful and unconstitutional”
Specifically, parents have targeted LCPS Superintendent Scott Ziegler and other school board members with calls for their immediate resignations.
For his part, Ziegler reportedly denied publicly that any assault occurred in the school restroom — but evidence has since surfaced that he sent an email to other board members to inform them of the allegation shortly after it was made.
As for Smith, he has indicated that he plans to take legal action against the district to address the “indifference and negligence” allegedly shown by officials as well as the “wrongful and unconstitutional” charges he faced as a result of confronting the school board.
This case is just the latest in a string of recent incidents highlighting backlash against policies being pursued by public school administrators nationwide.
The issue has been at the forefront of Virginia’s gubernatorial race with Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe facing intense criticism over his position that parents should not have a say in the lesson plans presented by the state’s teachers.