Following setbacks, Loudoun Co. schools begin search for new superintendent

Loudoun County Public Schools has selected a recruiting firm to start the process of hiring a new superintendent, who the Virginia-school system hopes to have ready for the 2023-2024 school year.

Loudoun’s school board will be seeking feedback from staff, parents and community leaders. Additionally, a survey will go out to parents in the coming weeks.

“The Board understands that recruiting and retaining an experienced, long-term leader is essential to student success and we are committed to gathering input and insights from our community throughout the process,” Board Chair Ian Serotkin said in a news release.

Whoever is chosen will be taking over a school system mired in controversy.

Former Superintendent Scott Ziegler was fired in December, one day after a special grand jury report criticized the school system’s response to two in-school sexual assaults by the same student in 2021.

The special grand jury indicted Ziegler shortly after he was fired. He’s facing charges of misdemeanor false publication, misdemeanor prohibited conduct and misdemeanor penalizing an employee for a court appearance.

School spokesman Wayde Byard was indicted on one count of felony perjury. He has been on leave since mid-December.

Just days after Ziegler was fired, Loudoun’s school board appointed its school system’s chief of staff, Daniel Smith, as its interim superintendent, with a goal of restoring trust.

In January, Smith notified the board that three high schools took longer to notify National Merit “Commended Scholars” than it should have. The notification process has been scrutinized statewide, and Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced an investigation into Fairfax County schools for the same error.

The school system told WTOP it’s working to standardize its process for notifying students of National Merit recognition, and it expects to make “significant policy changes” in the aftermath of the special grand jury’s report regarding its handling of sexual assaults.

“Hiring a new leader to execute a vision of excellence for all students is a critical responsibility of the School Board,” Serotkin said in the release.

LCPS said it anticipates the new, permanent superintendent will be announced this spring, with a start date of July 1.

WTOP’s Scott Gelman, Neal Augenstein, Jack Moore and Rick Massimo contributed to this report.

Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson is an Associate Producer and Web Writer/Editor at WTOP. After graduating in 2019 from James Madison University, Thomas moved away from Virginia for the first time in his life to cover the local government beat for a small daily newspaper in Zanesville, Ohio.

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