Loudoun County votes not to release sexual assault report -- Here's what happens next
LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - The Loudoun County School board voted on Tuesday 6-3 to not release the findings of an independent report of the 2021 sexual assault cases at two LCPS high schools. Now, parents are wondering what happens next.
The board is facing renewed calls for transparency after a grand jury report found school officials mishandled the situation. However, the board says they will not release the report because it is subject to attorney-client privilege.
That privilege exists so clients can be forthright and tell the whole truth to their lawyers without fear that the information will become public.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Parents 'furious' after LCPS votes not to release sexual assault report
Virginia law allows people to appeal a final school board decision to the local circuit court, but there are a few requirements.
The person appealing has to be able to show that they personally were harmed by the decision. This is called standing, which is required in any lawsuit.
In this case, the parents of the students who were assaulted could likely file an appeal, but it would be difficult for any other parent who is not directly tied to one of those cases to make the challenge.
"This is not what is called a traditional review de novo where the court gets to make their own independent decision regarding the matter," says Debbie McIntyre of McIntyre DeFede Law PLLC. "The standard in this case is whether or not the school board abused its discretion, acted arbitrarily or capriciously. And that standard is relatively high for a parent to overcome."
Scott Smith, whose daughter was sexually assaulted, says he is focused on moving on for his family right now. He is not opposed to the idea of making an appeal, but he'll need some help.
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"It's very important to get that report out so if our family and the other family could come to an agreement that we both want it out and a law firm wants to take this upon themselves, I would consider it," says Smith. "I would put my name behind it. But at this point, we have to start healing as a family, and we've lost a lot of family treasure fighting this good fight."
There is also an argument some parents are considering that the school board may have at least in part impliedly waived the privilege when they released recommendations and some information to the press about what was recommended to them.
McIntyre says attorney-client privilege is a sanctity, so that would be a difficult argument to make.