Loudoun County Public Schools is researching its hiring of an experienced, award-winning high school English teacher who was named in a D.C. private school’s investigation into allegations of former employees’ sexual and inappropriate emotional relationships with students.
The teacher is on leave from his position at Rock Ridge High School, in Ashburn, after he and three other former employees at Maret School were accused of misconduct in an independent investigation. He served as a teacher and administrator at Maret, a private K-12 school in Northwest D.C., from 1974 until 1989.
According to the Maret report, the teacher was fired amid allegations of misconduct, but his account differs. In an interview as part of the Maret investigation, he “informed us that he was an alcoholic while at Maret, and left Maret due to his alcoholism.”
The teacher told investigators he had entered treatment while at Maret and has been sober for 31 years. “He asserted that he voluntarily resigned from Maret, and had not been dismissed by the School.”
He was hired in 1995 by Loudoun County Public Schools. He taught English at Loudoun County High School and Briar Woods High School, according to his LinkedIn page, which makes no mention of his 15 years at Maret.
He was placed on leave Sept. 22.
What was known?
WTOP has learned Loudoun County schools are attempting to gather information about what, if any, negative information was known or discovered about the teacher during pre- and post-employment screening procedures.
Loudoun officials acknowledge the challenge in compiling the details more than 24 years after his hiring.
“Loudoun County Public Schools takes all reports of alleged misconduct by employees very seriously, and the safety and security of all students and staff is our highest priority,” school spokesman Wayde Byard said in a statement. “We are conducting a full review of the circumstances regarding the recent allegations against a high school teacher who formerly worked at the Maret School and won’t be commenting further before that review is complete.”
Contacted by WTOP with an offer to comment on the Maret investigation or his current leave from Loudoun County schools, the teacher politely declined.
The Maret investigation, conducted by Crowell & Moring, investigated allegations of wrongdoing by eight employees.
Investigators said they “received two credible first-hand reports of sexual relationships between [the teacher] and students while they were in high school,” as well as an “extensive emotional boundary-crossing relationship that lasted for many years throughout high school” and became physical after the student graduated from Maret.
The law firm also investigated second- and third-hand allegations against the teacher. Citing his alcohol use at the time, the teacher said he did “not recall” or did “not remember” having a physical relationship with any Maret student.
Four employees were not named in the report, but lead investigators Laurel Pyke Malson and Rebecca Springer chose to name this teacher and three others, saying there was a “sufficiently high standard of credibility and severity.”
The Maret report claims officials in Loudoun County were told in 2017 and again in 2019 that the teacher was the subject of allegations after completion of the commissioned report.
In 2017, after learning Loudoun County Child Protective Services would not open an investigation into abuse out of its jurisdiction, “The School then reported to the Loudoun County Attorney’s Office and asked that they contact the high school where [the teacher] was teaching, to notify them directly of the reports received by Maret.”
According to the Maret report, “An Assistant County Attorney for Loudoun County had suggested to the School that the victims themselves be encouraged to contact Rock Ridge High School.”
Asked about the propriety of having victims, rather than school or county officials, further the investigation, Loudoun County Attorney Leo Rogers told WTOP the Maret investigation is erroneous.
One of his assistants, Rogers said in an email to WTOP, “advised the Maret School and the Loudoun County Department of Family Services that Loudoun’s Child Protective Services does not have jurisdiction in the matter.” The Loudoun County school system is represented by its own counsel, rather than the county attorney. “She further suggested that the representative of the Maret School or those who have direct knowledge of the allegations in Washington, D.C., contact Loudoun County Public Schools.”
Asked whether the school system or its lawyer had been alerted directly about the allegations, Byard declined comment.
WTOP emails to investigators Malson and Springer, seeking clarification of which Loudoun County officials were notified about the allegations against the teacher, and how, weren’t immediately returned.
School board chair: ‘I am concerned’
The Maret investigation makes no allegations of criminal wrongdoing against any of the faculty members. In the District of Columbia, the statute of limitations for sexual assaults ranges from 10 to 15 years.
“That some conduct was described to us as being ‘consensual’ at the time does not lessen its damaging effects on the student involved, or render the conduct less objectionable, given the inherent imbalance in the power relationship between students and faculty members,” according to the report.
Loudoun County School Board Chairman Jeff Morse told WTOP: “I am concerned about the facts of this particular case. But more importantly, I want to ensure that we, as a [school] Division, are doing everything within our power to keep our students and staff safe from potential abusers today. I want our students to feel safe enough to confide in our teachers and counselors any incidents that may help us prevent any abuses in the future.”
Editor’s Note: This report has been updated to remove the name of the Loudoun County teacher in the Maret report, as well as to correct an error made by Loudoun County Attorney Leo Rogers.