Entertainment

Loudoun County schools chief of staff Mark Smith is OUT following controversies


LCPS Chief of Staff Mark Smith is out following criticism and controversy

The chief of staff for Loudoun County Public Schools in northern Virginia is no longer in that role following high-profile controversies, including sexual assault allegations against a teenager known as the ‘boy in a skirt’.

Chief of Staff Mark Smith had also been the district’s Title IX Coordinator, responsible for compliance with federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in schools, and had faced harsh criticism over his performance.

Asked about Smith’s departure, which was first reported on Wednesday by WJLA-TV, a district spokesperson simply said ‘the position is vacant’ and declined further comment.

Smith’s exit follows last week’s sentencing of the 15-year-old boy convicted of two sexual assaults of female classmates at separate schools. 

The father of one of the victims was infamously dragged out of a school board meeting where teachers lied about never receiving reports of sex assaults in the girls’ restrooms.

Smith had also been the district's Title IX Coordinator, responsible for compliance with federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in schools, and had faced harsh criticism

Smith had also been the district’s Title IX Coordinator, responsible for compliance with federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in schools, and had faced harsh criticism

People gather in Loudoun County in October to protest the school board's handling of a sexual assault that happened in a locked 'gender-fluid' school bathroom in May

People gather in Loudoun County in October to protest the school board’s handling of a sexual assault that happened in a locked ‘gender-fluid’ school bathroom in May

One school board member, speaking on condition of anonymity, told WJLA that Smith ‘had obligations under Title IX and they weren’t met.’ 

‘He was not a Title IX expert, but it was his job,’ the school board member said. ‘Someone had to pay and it was him.’ 

Smith could not immediately be reached for comment by DailyMail.com on Wednesday evening. 

The local parents’ advocacy group Fight for Schools celebrated Smith’s departure as much-needed accountability for the handling of the sexual assault cases. 

‘We have been saying for months that Loudoun County Public Schools violated Title IX and this report confirms that,’ the group’s executive director Ian Prior told the Loudoun Times-Mirror

‘While it is a positive development to see that LCPS is taking action, the fact remains that the buck stopped with Superintendent Scott Ziegler and the former leadership of the school board,’ he added. 

‘Ziegler remaining while his subordinates take the fall only further diminishes the trust in LCPS leadership,’ said Prior. 

Parents' advocacy group Fight for Schools celebrated Smith's departure but also called for the removal of Superintendent Scott Ziegler (above)

Parents’ advocacy group Fight for Schools celebrated Smith’s departure but also called for the removal of Superintendent Scott Ziegler (above)

After the first rape occurred in a school bathroom at Stone Bridge High School (above) in May 2021 the boy was allowed to attend nearby Broad Run High School while he awaited trial in juvenile court. The second assault occurred in a Broad Run classroom last October

After the first rape occurred in a school bathroom at Stone Bridge High School (above) in May 2021 the boy was allowed to attend nearby Broad Run High School while he awaited trial in juvenile court. The second assault occurred in a Broad Run classroom last October

Last week, the teen convicted of the sexual assaults in the district was ordered Wednesday to attend a locked, residential treatment facility until he turns 18, but spared prison time.

He also was ordered to be placed on the sex offender registry at a hearing Wednesday in Loudoun County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, a step the judge said she had never previously ordered in a juvenile case. 

The 15-year-old rapist – who DailyMail.com is not naming because he is a minor – was convicted of sexually assaulting two girls in two different schools in May and October last year. 

Judge Pamela Brooks said she felt compelled to do so after reviewing psychosexual and psychological evaluations of the boy conducted after he was found guilty of the assaults.

“Yours scared me,” she said of the reports. “I don’t know how else to put it. They scared me for yourself. They scared me for your family. They scared me for society.”

But the judge spared the teen rapist any prison time after the mother of one of the victims pleaded for him to be given a second chance to turn his life around.

Jessica Smith, whose husband Scott (with her above) was dragged from a school board meeting last year, stood up at her daughter's rapist's sentencing hearing and asked the judge not to jail him, and help him seek treatment instead

Jessica Smith, whose husband Scott (with her above) was dragged from a school board meeting last year, stood up at her daughter’s rapist’s sentencing hearing and asked the judge not to jail him, and help him seek treatment instead

Scott Smith, whose daughter was assaulted, was infamously dragged out of a board meeting where teachers lied about never receiving reports of sex assaults in the girls' restrooms

Scott Smith, whose daughter was assaulted, was infamously dragged out of a board meeting where teachers lied about never receiving reports of sex assaults in the girls’ restrooms

Jessica Smith, whose husband Scott was dragged from a school board meeting last year, stood up at her daughter’s rapist’s sentencing hearing and asked the judge not to jail him, and help him seek treatment instead. 

‘I feel that if this boy goes directly to juvenile jail he will not receive any treatment. 

‘I feel if he is placed in a long term residential he might have a fighting chance of becoming a better human being, she said. 

The boy wept and hung his head on the table after the judge imposed the requirement that he register as a sex offender, the only part of the sentence to which his lawyer objected. 

Defense attorney William Mann said the lifetime stigma associated with the registry contradicts “the idea of rehabilitation for a young teenager” that he said should be the overriding goal of a juvenile proceeding. 

Juvenile Court judge Pamela Brooks said the boy 'scared' her

Juvenile Court judge Pamela Brooks said the boy ‘scared’ her

The case became a touchstone for an array of incendiary cultural and political issues last year in Loudoun County, where the assaults occurred. 

Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin called for an investigation of the county school board’s response to the assaults during his successful campaign last year, and Virginia Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares has said he plans to conduct that probe.

Parents were angered that there were multiple assaults. 

After the first one occurred in a school bathroom at Stone Bridge High School in May 2021 the boy was allowed to attend nearby Broad Run High School while he awaited trial in juvenile court. 

The second assault occurred in a Broad Run classroom last October.

The case also became embroiled in debate over extending protections to transgender students in schools, amid allegations that the boy had been wearing a skirt when he assaulted his classmate at Stone Bridge. 

At trial, prosecutors presented evidence that the boy in part blamed that assault on the fact that he accidentally caught his knee-length skirt on his watch while locked in a bathroom stall with the girl, according to news reports.

It was alleged in court that he had assaulted a third victim who he is yet to acknowledge. He has not been charged with a third offense. 

Speaking after the sentencing hearing, Jessica Smith told DailyMail.com she was ‘relieved’.   

‘Residential treatment is what each of us were pushing for. If he messes up, he will go to jail,’ she said.  



Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button