No verdict reached in fourth day of Loudoun Co. superintendent trial

No verdict was reached in court Thursday as the jury trial of former Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott carried on for a fourth day.

Around 8:30 p.m., word was given that no more deliberations would be made for the night and jurors will reconvene for a fifth day on Friday.

The jury deliberated over two misdemeanors related to Ziegler allegedly retaliating against special education teacher Erin Brooks and unlawfully discharging her from her position at Rosa Lee Carter Elementary School in May 2022.

One of the charges has never been tried in a Virginia court — notion of retaliation from a public figure — which may be contributing to the lengthy timeline of the trial.

NBC Washington reporter Drew Wilder joined WTOP on Thursday night to discuss the trial as it happened.

“So this trial was expected to last two days — Monday, Tuesday. Here we are at about 7:30 on Thursday, and we’re still going,” Wilder said. “So this trial’s got delayed for a couple of these legal hang-ups. Today, we had a few more witnesses, including the star witness, the special education teacher who had her contract not renewed a couple of years ago, she came back to the stand today and was very emotional after her testimony.”

Brooks had testified Tuesday that Ziegler had retaliated against her by not renewing her contract with the school after reporting an alleged sexual assault by a 10-year-old nonverbal and autistic student.

On Wednesday, Ziegler sat at the defense table as Rosa Lee Carter principal Diane Mackey testified that she was Brooks’ supervisor from 2020 to 2022.

Mackey said she was the person who sent a letter to Ziegler recommending that Brooks’ contract not be renewed at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. Brooks was in the second of three years of probation that all new Virginia teachers go through — a period in which no cause is needed to decide not to renew a contract.

“But, when you’ve got the backdrop of a teacher raising a flag about potential sexual assault, or at the very least inappropriate touching in school, while you’re dealing with the two sexual assaults that we knew about already in schools at that time, at the very least, it really doesn’t look good,” Wilder told WTOP.

“And that’s the crux of what’s going on here: Did they fire her because she raised her hand and said we’ve got another problem and they just didn’t really want another problem at that point?” he added.

The jurors are set to continue deliberations on Friday at 9:30 a.m. Wilder said they will hopefully have a verdict “before lunchtime.”

The trial progressed after Ziegler’s team unsuccessfully tried to have the case dismissed last week.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report.

Ciara Wells

Ciara Wells is a freelance digital writer/editor at WTOP. She is a recent graduate of American University where she studied journalism and Spanish. Before joining WTOP, she was the opinion team editor at a student publication and a content specialist at an HBCU in Detroit.

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