Former Loudoun Co. schools superintendent files motion to have charges dismissed

Former Loudoun County, Virginia, schools Superintendent Scott Ziegler filed four motions Thursday, including one calling for all charges against him to be dismissed.

Ziegler, who the school system fired in December, was indicted by a special grand jury and charged with one count of misdemeanor false publication, one count of misdemeanor prohibited conduct and one count of misdemeanor penalizing an employee for a court appearance.

The charges came after Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued an executive order calling for an investigation into the school system’s handling of two in-school sexual assaults by the same student in 2021. Attorney General Jason Miyares impaneled the special grand jury.

In the motion to dismiss the charges, attorney Erin Harrigan argued that Youngkin didn’t have the authority to issue Executive Order 4, which requested that Miyares investigate the school system.

That, Harrigan wrote, “renders the entire investigation driven by the Attorney General to be without any lawful authority or jurisdiction.”

In the filing, Harrigan says that Ziegler and Loudoun County Public Schools became political targets in 2021.

The indictments, the motion said, “highlight the dangerous precedent set by EO (executive order) 4 and the Attorney General’s investigation of LCPS, when the tools of criminal law enforcement are seized by statewide political officials to be used against disfavored persons.”

Miyares also lacked the authority and jurisdiction to initiate the investigation, Harrigan argued.

A Miyares spokeswoman said his office’s responses are due Jan. 19. Court arguments on Ziegler’s request are scheduled for Jan. 26 at 1 p.m.

In separate motions, Harrigan urged a judge to have Miyares’ office provide more information about Ziegler’s charges, and to share evidence against him.

School spokesman Wade Byard was also indicted by the special grand jury on a count of felony perjury. A two-day jury trial is scheduled for June 20 and 21. Byard briefly appeared in Loudoun County Circuit Court on Thursday.

Youngkin promised to investigate the school’s handling of the situation on the campaign trail.

Investigators said a student sexually assaulted two other students at two separate schools, Stone Bridge High and Broad Run High.

School board Chair Ian Serotkin told WTOP that the county expects to make “significant policy changes” in the coming months, following a grand jury report that criticized the school system’s handling of the two sexual assaults.

WTOP’s Rick Massimo and Dimitri Sotis contributed to this report.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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