Amid an investigation into the handling of sexual assaults in schools, Loudoun County’s new head of its public school system said that he is prepared, equipped and ready for the challenge to lead.
“Loudoun County is an incredible school district,” said Aaron Spence, who spoke to reporters on Tuesday. But he did say that the Virginia school district of some 83,000 students does have some challenges, adding, “I think I have some experiences that will be helpful.”
Those experiences include being the superintendent of Moore County Schools in North Carolina for two years. Spence also worked in other Virginia school districts, such as Henrico and Stafford counties. He is coming to Loudoun County schools following his role at Virginia Beach City Public Schools, where he became superintendent in 2014.
The school board voted 6-2 to approve Spence’s candidacy last Friday, following the hiring of a firm that will led the search for a new superintendent in February. Spence is taking over for interim superintendent Daniel Smith, who served following the expulsion of Scott Ziegler who was fired for how the school system handled sexual assaults involving students.
Spence said building trust and transparency during a time the school system is under scrutiny is one of his main goals. He said that he has not had the opportunity to assess the school’s safety program and its protocols, but that’s going to be “part of my work when I get there.”
“My intention would be to assess that report to understand where, if any, shortcomings were; make sure that we’ve got the processes and structures in place to address those,” Spence said.
A survey with more than 4,000 responses from the community showed school safety, staff retention and academics were the most critical issues.
“I believe that we need to have a strong partnership with well-trained law enforcement in our buildings, law enforcement that understands the difference between policing out in the community and on the street, and policing in our schools,” Spence told WTOP when asked how he plans to address school safety.
Spence has six children, two of whom will attend Loudoun County schools.
It’s unclear when his start date will be, as he has contractual obligations with Virginia Beach school district. He hopes to be in Loudoun County by the end of the summer.
“I’m looking forward to Loudoun County being my last superintendency,” Spence said. “ And I’d like to stay there as long as the school board and community will have me.”
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