The Loudoun County school system in Virginia is changing how its school resource officers handle sexual assault cases under an agreement with law enforcement approved on Tuesday.
The Loudoun County School Board unanimously approved a new Memorandum of Understanding with the county’s sheriff’s office and the Leesburg Police Department during Tuesday’s meeting. A big focus of the agreement is on how the Virginia school system’s school resource officers handle sexual assault cases.
The new agreement comes in the wake of two sexual assault cases involving the same student in 2021. That led to a federal Title IX investigation of the school system and a December grand jury report that found Loudoun County schools mishandled the two highly scrutinized cases and resulted in the firing of former Superintendent Scott Ziegler.
One major change will be new training requirements for SROs.
Officers will undergo training on trauma-informed policing tactics and interview techniques. They will be designed specifically to better help students who are potentially sexually assaulted or who are victims of domestic abuse.
“Significant updates that are in this agreement, which have been mutually agreed upon at the staff level between LCPS and our law enforcement partners include language in the MOU that documents the right and legal obligations of LCPS to conduct Title IX or other investigations in parallel to law enforcement investigations,” said School Board Chair Ian Serotkin.
In addition he said the new agreement specifies that law enforcement will report to the division superintendent and to the principal on such incidents, which is required by Virginia code.
The new agreement also spells out when and how SROs can question students at school after both on-campus and off-campus offenses.
Virginia state law still allows for officers to question students suspected of committing a crime without any parental involvement.
The recommendation came after months of reviews by a joint committee made up of Loudoun County School Board members and County Board of Supervisors.