Letter: Catherine Caputo, Round Hill

Editor: With recent events of the tragic Broad Run and Stone Bridge High School suppressed sexual assault cases, there is a clear need for reform. 

Though I’m tempted to simply say “Do better Loudoun,” and carry on, I know that School Board members will make no effort for change. So, I feel inclined to demand a higher form of action. If it isn’t already clear by angry parents at School Board meetings or terrified students, I’ll be direct: the Loudoun County School Board needs to enact new procedures to publicly address past sexual assaults and prevent future cases. 

Whether it be a day, a week, or two months ago, evidence of sexual assault misconduct is not meant to be kept quiet, especially by trusted officials, like Superintendent Ziegler. 

As a high school student, I’m not only concerned for others but for myself as well. I’m aware that this topic is touchy and raw, so speaking on it may cause hesitancy and fear of pushback. Yet, isn’t this what members expected when taking their School Board member seats? 

Created in June 2020, Be Better Woodgrove, a website dedicated to fix sexual assault prominence in Woodgrove High School, sought to bring light to heart-wrenching statistics. According to Woodgrove students, 94.4% of survey participants did not feel that the Loudoun County school system equipped students with the resources they needed to help victims and prevent perpetrators. As a Woodgrove High School student, I’d agree. It’s not discussed enough, and perhaps, that’s a result of lack of repercussions and a loss of faith in the school board amidst tragic events. 

Dr. Sandra Caron, a professor of family relations and human sexuality at the University of Maine’s College of Education and Human Development, replies to a recent study on why women keep quiet about sexual assault, “They knew the other person wasn’t going to be receptive to hearing this tragic news, and that gives us a little piece of insight in terms of understanding that prevention work isn’t just about [educating] people about the myths and realities — you know the typical discussion. We need to go one step further, and we need to help people understand how we spot when somebody tells you something difficult, or what to do when you suspect something has happened to someone. That piece of training needs to be in there.” 

The Loudoun County School Board shouldn’t be focusing on protecting its reputation, but instead, ensuring that they aren’t hiding the truth —the key to bringing effective reform. The school staff, counselors, and board members should be trained to shed light on cases to bring justice to the victim and offender.

As a female high school, I must learn to protect myself. I must demand the protection of others. To simply put it, the Loudoun County School Board needs to be attentive to the evident frustration from distraught parents and students and to not conceal incidents that deserve to be known. 

Catherine Caputo, Round Hill

3 thoughts on “Letter: Catherine Caputo, Round Hill

  • 2022-01-13 at 10:05 pm

    In August 2020, Trans-inclusive restrooms became the law for students in Virginia due to a 4th Circuit ruling. LCSB is making good-faith efforts to implement the ruling safely. That’s why it passed Policy 8040 & seeks to ensure that abuses don’t occur. With all due respect to the writer, LCSB should be applauded for its efforts. P.S. — Some folks on social media think Trans females must dress in a skirt & blouse to enter a ladies’ room. That’s absurd. Trans females typically wear jeans & a top just like everyone else. Discerning who belongs in a particular restroom goes much deeper than clothing.

  • 2022-01-14 at 9:00 am

    I agree with the student emphatically. Unfortunately, because in most of these cases the victims and/or the perpetrators are minors and because of the due process protections in the Constitution, there are limits that can be done.

    The best way to fix the culture of sexual assault in our schools is better education. Unfortunately, the most effective education methods involve discussion of subjects that many of the same adults hollering the loudest about schools would very likely find objectionable.

    If we really want to change things, the school board should take the lead in adopting comprehensive education programs starting in elementary school that speaks to issues like consent and tolerance for LGBTQ+ students. More transparency about incidents should be a part of that effort.

  • 2022-01-17 at 12:25 pm

    It’s heartbreaking that students don’t even feel safe in public schools because of the indifference and incompetence of LCPS. According to peer-reviewed research, between 6-20% of graduating students assert they were touched in a sexual way by an educator during K-12. Think about that. You have 7000 students per grade in LCPS and anywhere between 420-1400 of these students will be sexually touched by a TEACHER/ADMIN!!!! And that doesn’t count the assaults like the one from the gender fluid rapist student.

    LCPS couldn’t care less. Their only response is to lie. “No student was sexually assaulted in a bathroom.” “Title IX didn’t allow us to protect other students.” “LCPS followed all Title IX procedures.” Lie after lie after lie. All while implementing radical woke policies that put students like the author in danger. The SB and admins should be in jail. It’s that simple. Only then can we put competent folks in charge who care about students.

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