The Loudoun County Juvenile Court Service Unit notified the school division that a Stone Bridge High School student had been arrested on July 9 in connection allegations of rape of a fellow student, more than a month prior to the assailant being moved to Broad Run High School where he sexually assaulted a second schoolmate in October.
As questions arose surrounding the decision to allow the assailant to attend a different school after the teen had been found responsible for the May 28 sexual assault at Stone Bridge,animus has grown between the Sheriff’s Office and the school division.
A Nov. 10 letter from Sheriff Mike Chapman to Superintendent Scott Ziegler details an exchange between Sheriff’s Office and JCSU personnel in which officials decided was JCSU’s responsibility to notify the school division:
“Just prior to the July 9, 2021 arrest, case investigator Detective Czekaj of the LCSO Special Victims Unit, communicated with Mr. Jason Bickmore of the Loudoun County Juvenile Court Service Unit (JCSU). She asked if “we” (LCSO) should make the arrest notification to LCPS. Mr. Bickmore advised that LCSU would make the notification as it is their responsibility to do so. In a post-arrest conversation between Detective Czekaj and Mr. Bickmore, Mr. Bickmore confirmed that the notification was sent by letter to LCPS, which LCPS could disseminate for their safety purposes.”
The letter also indicates that Virginia law only requires notification by JCSU by mail. It is not clear whether there was also an email or phone call made to the superintendent’s office following the mailing of the notice.
Chapman also wrote that Bickmore had conversations about the assailant’s court order with Doug Fulton, the director of School Administration, and Dave Spage, the principal of Broad Run High School, in August.
The sheriff said that administrators placed the assailant in another school despite knowing the court-ordered disposition.
“If there were any lapses in communication directly to you throughout this process that impacted your decision making, it would seem it occurred within LCPS’ own administration,” the sheriff wrote.
Ziegler issued a statement on Tuesday in response to the sheriff’s letter, citing a State Code provision that requires that law enforcement authorities to report to the superintendent offenses that would be considered a felony if the student were an adult.
“To date, Sheriff Chapman has not acknowledged the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office’s obligation to report offenses per this Code section,” he stated.
Ziegler previously told media representatives that the school district had followed Title IX reporting guidelines following the initial assault in May. The reporting protocol, he said, proved insufficient for addressing the situation.
“Local school divisions should have flexibility to provide greater protection measures including removing students completely from the student body when initial circumstance warrants it,” Ziegler told the School Board as it reviewed its 2022 legislative agenda in October.
However, Title IX permits a school division to remove a student prior to the conclusion of an investigation on an emergency basis. Ziegler said that the school division does not conduct its own investigation until law enforcement concludes its investigation.