CHARLOTTE — More than 100 students, parents and friends held a protest Tuesday, calling for changes at Myers Park High School.
They claim the administration has repeatedly covered up cases of sexual assault. They want the school to do more to protect them.
The rally happened just outside the Myers Park High School campus, surrounded by woods -- woods where some former students said they had been sexually assaulted.
On Tuesday, two accusers wanted to speak publicly.
Nikki Wombwall, a former student, is one of the accusers who settled her lawsuit with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She said she’s heard from other students with similar stories and she wanted to take action.
“In 2014, at 15 years old, I was raped not far from where we are standing now,” Wombwall said.
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Wombwall said when she tried to report what had happened to school administrators, she was shamed into silence.
“What happened to me was not an isolated incident,” Wombwall said. “It’s the symptom of a system that seeks to put its own reputation above the wellbeing of its students.”
More than 100 students, parents and friends gathered outside the school to call for change.
Student Aiden Finnell, 16, helped organize the march and rally. Students deliberately wore clothes that would violate the CMS dress code to make the point that what young women wear should not invite or excuse sexual assaults.
“I’m tired of seeing the administration of Myers Park do nothing for their students when it comes to sexual assault,” Finnell said.
“It’s trauma,” former student Serena Evans said. “It stays with you for the rest of your life. It’s not something you forget. It’s something you have to live with and learn to cope with.”
A second accuser said the culture of the school put its image over the safety of students, a theme other speakers at the rally spoke about and say now has to change.
“They can’t stay silent forever,” Aidan Finnell said. “We want accountability and we want justice for all these people who’ve had their stories covered up.”
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Channel 9 asked CMS for a response to these claims Monday. In an email, they said that staff are trained every year on how to handle claims of sexual assault.
They also said they could not speak specifically about the principal or any of the staff at Myers Park for privacy reasons.
“How does the school/district plan to address issues regarding sexual assault reporting and Title IX?
All CMS schools have a designated Title IX liaison who is responsible for investigating claims of sexual misconduct or discrimination at school, and students are also encouraged to report any allegations to any administrator on campus. Training on sexual harassment occurs annually and covers how to identify and report sexual assault or misconduct.
What policies or procedures are being implemented to assure assaults are reported properly?
The CMS Code of Student Conduct outlines the procedure for how to report sexual harassment and also contains Title IX incident report forms that can be submitted anonymously. Schools continue to inform students and train staff and administrators annually on how to report assaults and claims of misconduct.
Will there be district wide training?
CMS school-based staff have annual mandatory training through the CMS Title IX department on how to listen and respond to concerns. Administrators receive intensive training on investigating and reporting complaints and learn how to support students who share these complaints.
Will there be an investigation of Myers Park high school administration, specifically Principal Bosco?
We do not respond to inquiries or issues involving personnel.
There are allegations from multiple students that Principal Bosco consistently covered up sexual assaults. Has this ever been investigated and what were the findings? Was there any disciplinary action taken?
We do not respond to inquiries or issues involving personnel.”
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