LCPS School Board appoints interim superintendent at emergency meeting

Loudoun County school board members are holding a meeting Thursday where they announced the appointment of Dr. Daniel Smith as acting superintendent. 

The school district called for the emergency meeting Wednesday night after firing the previous superintendent, Dr. Scott Ziegler, over a scathing report revealing how the school system handled two sex assaults last year. 

"During his brief tenure with LCPS, Dr. Smith has earned the School Board’s trust in what has been a very difficult time for the school division," said School Board Chair Jeff Morse (Dulles District) in a statement. "His familiarity with the school division will ease a time of transition."

"In making its decision, the Board took into account that Dr. Smith was not involved with the incidents that led to the creation of the Special Grand Jury that released its report Monday," Morse said. "Dr. Smith’s appointment represents the end to what has been a very difficult two years for the community. It is a first step toward restoring community trust in the school division, including the transparency our community deserves."   

Dr. Smith was appointed the chief of staff for Loudoun County Public Schools in April 2022 after previously serving as the principal of Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia. 

"I accept the challenges that come with my new role and look forward to refocusing the efforts of our employees on maintaining, and improving, a world-class school division," Smith said in a statement. "It is my goal to create a climate that, in the short term, rebuilds public trust and, in the long term, allows the next superintendent to devote their efforts to the most important work schools perform: educating students in a safe environment that allows them to reach their full potential."   

The school board hopes to find a permanent superintendent for LCPS by spring 2023. 

School board members still haven't answered FOX 5's questions about the Special Grand Jury investigation or the firing of Dr. Scott Ziegler, and parents are fed up. 

On Monday, a Special Grand Jury report was released stating that the school system failed while investigating two sex assaults at two different schools in 2021. 

The investigation revealed that there was no coordinated coverup between Loudoun County School administrators and the school board. However, the school system continued to show a lack of openness, transparency, and accountability. 

About 24 hours after the report was released, Dr. Ziegler was fired from his superintendent position without cause. 

The termination comes after he faced backlash following the mismanagement of the serious incidents. 

Some Loudoun County parents don't feel that's enough. They believe more people need to be held responsible, including the school board members. 

READ MORE: Report on Loudoun County Public Schools released following special grand jury investigation

"That school board is made up of Republicans and Democrats. There were seven of them that were in office at this time. It doesn’t matter to me, Republican or Democrat, they all need to go in 2023," said Ian Prior, executive director, Fight For Schools.

The report said, "LCPS tends to avoid managing difficult situations by not addressing them fully. The culture needs to change. Stronger leadership would address problems head-on instead of letting them snowball."

The meeting is slated to start at 6:45 p.m., and there will be no public comment.