CHARLOTTE — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced Hawthorne Academy Principal Diann Weston and Assistant Principal Nina Adams have been reassigned after accusations of mishandling a sexual assault report.
The district sent a message to parents saying the following:
“This is a message for families of Hawthorne Academy of Health Sciences students. Effective tomorrow, Feb. 8, Principal Diann Weston and Assistant Principal Nina Adams will begin serving new assignments in the district. We are recruiting for the principal and assistant principal roles. Current interim principal Mike Turner will remain in the interim role until a new principal is appointed.”
In November of 2021, Hawthorne Academy announced Weston and Adams had been suspended with pay. CMS officials did not say why they were suspended.
The suspensions came after the school was accused of mishandling sex assault allegations.
A sophomore at the school said she reported a sexual assault to administrators but got suspended.
Administrators at Hawthorne Academy said there was no violation of the CMS sexual harassment policy and the district said the female student falsified information.
The district put the student’s suspension on hold and reopened its investigation into what happened.
Statement from the mother of the student:
“First and foremost, my daughter and I would like to thank everyone for the outpouring support in this very trying time.
“This in no way has been easy for us as it’s been a daily battle ensuring my daughter feels safe and secure as well as letting her know she made the right decision.
“My daughter wants everyone to know ‘that she thanks them and it makes her feel she has more support.’ We never expected to get as much publicity as we did but we want everyone to know that things like this should be heard and not hidden.”
Statement from the attorney of the student:
“CMS had plenty of opportunities to avoid yet another campus sexual assault scandal, but rather than taking meaningful action when issues arose at Myers Park High School, it waited for another disaster to strike at Hawthorne Academy.
“All parents need to stand with their students at this time and demand change so this does not happen to another student ever again.”
‘Can you not hear our cries for change?’
The Hawthorne Academy developments dominated a CMS School Board meeting.
Channel 9 was there and heard comments from a CMS graduate who said she was raped on a school campus years ago but did not follow through with the investigation because officials warned her that she could be punished.
Nikki Wombwell, a Myers Park grad, said she was sharing her own experience in hopes that something will be done to protect other students in CMS.
“I’ve always wondered what would have happened if I went through with an investigation,” Wombwell said at the meeting. “I had texts of him admitting to it. Surely, the school’s warning was an empty threat. Now I don’t have to wonder.”
“I can’t help but see myself in this girl. I was 15, scared, hurt, and I needed help. I was met with victim-blaming and threats. The same has happened to this girl -- how can this still be happening seven years later? Can you not hear our cries for change? Your actions have lasting ramifications for the rest of students’ lives.”
Wombwell, now 22, said her attack happened at Myers Park High School. She’s one of two students who sued the district over how it handled sex assault cases.
CMS paid $50,000 to settle that lawsuit. It also launched an investigation into the administration at Myers Park. Following that investigation, the district reassigned Principal Mark Bosco to an administrative position.
Bosco’s attorney maintains there is no evidence Bosco mishandled any sex assault claims.
CMS has since named a new principal at Myers Park High School. Robert Folk has worked in CMS for decades, most recently as the principal of Alexander Graham Middle School.
(WATCH BELOW: Principal, assistant principal suspended after accusations of mishandled sex assault report)
©2021 Cox Media Group