Loudoun County school officials indicted amid student sexual assault investigation

Two Loudoun County Public School officials have been indicted by a special grand jury investigating the mishandling of multiple sexual assaults in Loudoun County high schools as fallout on how the district handled two sexual assaults by the same student continues.

The indictments were issued earlier this year against former LCPS Superintendent Scott Ziegler and LCPS spokesperson Wayde Byard.

The indictments have been unsealed less than a week after Ziegler was fired by the school board. Ziegler has been indicted on three misdemeanors charges: one for false publication, knowingly and intentionally causing a media outlet or someone to publish a false statement, and two counts related to action he took against special education teacher Erin Brooks.

Brooks filed a lawsuit against the school board in June alleging she was retaliated against after reporting multiple instances of sexual harassment by a student. The pair of indictments related to brooks accuse Ziegler of unlawfully using his public position to retaliate or threaten to retaliate against her.

Wayde Byard, the spokesperson for Loudoun County Public Schools for over twenty years, was indicted for a single felony count for perjury: lying under oath.

The indictments are as follows:

Scott Ziegler; Loudoun: one count of misdemeanor false publication (Va. Code § 18.2-209), one count of misdemeanor prohibited conduct (Va. Code § 2.2-3103), and one count of misdemeanor penalizing an employee for a court appearance (Va. Code § 18.2-465.1)

Wayde Byard; Loudoun: one count of felony perjury (Va. Code § 18.2-434)

Virginia’s Office of the Attorney General said they will be prosecuting the cases and issued no further comment on this matter.

Loudoun County Public Schools released the following statement on the indictments:

Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) is aware of the indictments that the Special Grand Jury issued that were unsealed today. As a result, Mr. Wayde Byard, Public Information Officer, was placed on leave today in accordance with LCPS Policy and Virginia State Code. 

While LCPS will await any additional updates from the Special Grand Jury, LCPS plans to address the recommendations of the Special Grand Jury in the School Board’s December 13, 2022 work session. The Board will consider policy-related and process improvements to implement to further ensure the safety and care of all LCPS staff and students and restore trust within our community.