Emails Show Sheriff’s Office Refused School Board Security Request

After a raucous School Board meeting on June 22 resulted in one man dragged out in handcuffs and Loudoun in national headlines, the county Sheriff’s Office refused to provide additional security at the following School Board meeting, emails show.

During the public comment portion of that meeting, as the board fielded comments on teachings about racism and then-proposed protections for transgender students, Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) repeatedly advised the raucous audience of over 200 people to maintain order. The boardroom was ultimately cleared by deputies, and one parent was arrested. 

But as school administrators stepped up security measures and limited public access for its next meeting on Aug. 10, the Sheriff’s Office did not have a presence in the building. 

Newly obtained emails show that Superintendent Scott Ziegler had requested the same security footprint that had been provided for the June 22 meeting.  In a letter to the administration, the Sheriff’s Office defended the decision to pull protection, saying that the district “unilaterally” decided to limit public comment and implement security measures such as a metal detector, without consulting the Sheriff’s Office.

In a letter to Ziegler dated Aug. 6, the school division’s Chief Operations Officer Kevin Lewis said that Sheriff Mike Chapman and his department received national criticism for the handling of the event, and that the public should have been allowed to speak.

“School Board is firing people up and calling LCSO to clean it up. The plan for the Aug 10/11 puts LCSO in the same position and I won’t be put in that position again. School board is being dismissive of people they don’t agree with,” Lewis recounted Chapman’s remarks.

The Sheriff’s Office leaders told the administration the agency would not provide uniformed officers for the meeting, but that officers would be “in the area” for a quick response. 

Earlier correspondence between the administration and the Sheriff’s Office shows that Ziegler and his team had requested a “robust protection plan”: three deputies inside the administration building, a canine explosive sweep, a five-person quick reaction force on site, undercover deputies in the public assembly area at the administration building, and a civil defense unit and a special operations team on standby. Chapman’s office described the request as “extraordinary.”

Two meetings took place between the administration and the Sheriff’s Office on July 29 and Aug. 5 to discuss security plans. 

In a response to the Sheriff’s Office’s letter, Ziegler emailed Chapman on Aug. 6, saying that intelligence shared during both planning meetings indicated potential security threats for the Aug. 10 School Board meeting, including that hotel rooms were booked by “those wishing to demonstrate at the meeting on August 10.” He also detailed robocalls that had been made to community members calling for demonstrations at the meeting, and that board members had received threatening messages.

 “Reviewing the news footage from the June 22 meeting, it is clear that law enforcement is needed in the board room and on campus at the administration building. I am disappointed in your decision not to station deputies inside,” Ziegler wrote.” Since early 2021, LCSO and LCSO deputies have worked together to provide security in the board room—I am unclear as to why this is now unacceptable. If there is a need to clarify the roles of LCSO, LCPS Safety, and Security, and private security, please let me know. Again, given our organizations’ history of collaboration, I am unsure why this joint effort is a problem.”

Multiple board members said that given threats received prior to the Aug. 10 meeting, the lack of on-site assistance from the Sheriff’s Office was disconcerting. 

Beth Barts (Leesburg) received an onslaught of threats and hateful messages since becoming the subject of a removal effort due to her involvement in a private Facebook group, called the Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County, where critics charge board members violated closed-door meeting laws for elected officials. Barts attended the Aug. 10 meeting remotely—citing personal safety concerns—and stated she was not attending the meeting from her home. Barts told Loudoun Now that she had grown accustomed to the Sheriff’s Office’s presence at meetings. 

“The sheriff never worried about such optics in the past, so I find it puzzling that despite repeated pleas by the Superintendent during the five days leading up to the August 10th meeting, he chose to provide no uniformed deputies at all,” Barts said.

Kraig Troxell, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said that the department does not disclose details about operational plans.

14 thoughts on “Emails Show Sheriff’s Office Refused School Board Security Request

  • 2021-11-01 at 10:57 am

    Wow! Ziegler goes over the top to fabricate the aura of an actual threat and somehow LCSO is the problem? Ziegler wanted a bomb sweep? This is nothing more than Kabuki theater on the part of the school board. It is pathetic and the entire board should resign and Ziegler should have been fired when he covered up the rape of a child in a county school. Instead, he set up the father of the victim to be arrested! The good people of Loudoun County need to clean out this nest of radicals. Remember this tomorrow when you go to the polls.

  • 2021-11-01 at 11:24 am

    This is a remarkable dereliction of duty by the sheriff’s department. It would appear that it’s been deeply politicized. This merits further investigation and probably some FOIAs for additional e-mails to see how far the rot grows.

  • 2021-11-01 at 11:39 am

    Good for the Sheriff. Had Zeigler and the school board not created the problem….

  • 2021-11-01 at 12:27 pm

    Disappointingly biased article that leaves out already well known facts.
    I expect better from Loudoun Now.

  • 2021-11-01 at 12:55 pm

    Loudoun has fifty plus elementary schools. They don’t have SRO’s. The SB and Ziegler requested 60 plus deputies for their protection, but scorn protecting our youngest.

    Until there is a SRO in every elementary school, the SB shouldn’t get a single deputy. Kids First. Corrupt, sexual predator enabling lying hacks, never.

    Good job Sheriff.

  • 2021-11-01 at 12:56 pm

    One more reason we need to keep an elected Sheriff and not a police chief.

  • 2021-11-01 at 1:41 pm

    One school board member resigned because of threats against her and her family. But our Republican ad-maker sheriff decides that they don’t need protection? At least two recognized hate groups have been involved in the anti-LGBT BS directed at the school board.

    We do not need our sheriff deciding who gets protection and who doesn’t. He should resign immediately.

  • 2021-11-01 at 4:07 pm

    This dispute between LCSO & LCPS is most unfortunate. But it’s the “silly season” of politics . So I suppose it’s not surprising. I just long for a return to normalcy. I’d like to see all hands on deck to ensure a quality education for every LCPS student. Please vote Loudoun!

  • 2021-11-01 at 4:13 pm

    Disappointingly biased article that leaves out already well known facts.
    I expect(ed?) better from Loudoun Now.

  • 2021-11-01 at 7:30 pm

    The Superintendent/Board used the Sheriff’s deputies at the June 22 meeting to shut down lawful public comment that he Board didn’t like. Had they been BLM protesters they would have been celebrated. All the people did is briefly applaud some comments. So we need a SWAT team on standby now? The left can’t allow their policies to be debated–the policies consistently fail, hurt people, wreck the economy and education. The protection we need is from the school board, not the other way around. Good for Mike Chapman in keeping law enforcement out of the Board’s attempt to cancel free speech.

  • 2021-11-01 at 9:58 pm

    Don’t try to make the LCSO look bad a day before the election, when there is little time to refute it. The LCSB didn’t need security. There was no threat to them. People got angry, because they shut down public comment when people clapped – a 1st Amendment right – instead of using stupid jazz hands as the board arbitrarily dictated. Over a hundred people who had waited to speak were denied their right to talk – because the LCSB didn’t want to hear their complaints. The father of a raped girl loudly objected to the shut down of comments. When a woman said to the father of the raped girl that the girl wasn’t raped, he yelled at her. A LCSO officer grabbed his arm from behind. When he pulled away the officer knocked him to the ground (all on video). None of this was any threat to the LCSB. When parents began speaking at this public forum anyway without the LCSB listening, Ziegler without any authority to do so ordered the building cleared to shut them down. Since then, the LCSB has used taxpayer money to pay for bullet proof glass at the Admin building (not schools), hire rent-a-cops with Glocks to allow no more than ten people inside the building and keep people standing outside in the elements again. This money should be spent in classrooms, not on the huge admin bldg. Why? Because, LCSB wants you to think they are the victims instead of our children as they ignore parental rights, and impose policies that deny girls privacy and sports, promote anti-white racist instruction, fill libraries with lewd materials, and push political indoctrination in the name of equity, not equality under the law.

  • 2021-11-02 at 12:11 pm

    It’s like the Loudoun County Sheriff was a part of the scheme to create the spectacle that is 2021 Loudoun County to drive right-wing white people–the most panicky and easily stampeded animals on his planet–to the polls for the GOP.

  • 2021-11-02 at 5:24 pm

    Chapman has done a good job while in office but politics have gotten in the way.

    The Sherriff office should be free of political party affiliation as many other government officials.

    Unfortunately no one is adult enough too take politics out of schools and policing.

    Parents and school officials are all acting like juveniles. Everyone needs to grow up act like adults. Unfortunately I don’t think this will happen.

    Acting like asses by yelling, screaming, making threats to school board members, parents, teachers or administrators at a school board meeting does little good. If you act with some rationality and some passion it may go much further.

    If you don’t like the way things are going then vote for a new board at election time, move away to a place with a school district that better fits your children or put your kids in a private school.

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