U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, during a visit to Charlotte schools on Monday, offered her support to students at Myers Park High School who have rallied behind survivors of sexual assault.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students have protested and are calling for change at CMS as a civil lawsuit continues against the district, stemming from a reported sexual assault on campus more than five years ago.
Mainly, students want more education on Title IX and how to file a complaint. They’re worried there’s fear of being bullied or not believed if a sexual assault report needs to be filed, various students have said.
Adams — whose 12th Congressional District includes Charlotte and who spent much of Monday with U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona — told the Observer: “We’re certainly watching to see what’s going to happen ... but we certainly offer our support to all students and children.”
Cardona’s visit included stops at Johnson C. Smith University and Paw Creek Elementary School with Adams. They spent time with students, educators and parents. In between events, the Observer asked the congresswoman about recent controversy involving the past reports of rape at Myers Park High.
“I don’t think anybody should be harassed,” she said. “And I think that the school, the school board and the administration will be doing everything that they can.”
Cardona, sworn in earlier this year in President Joe Biden’s administration, focused his visit to North Carolina on issues of post-COVID-19 education efforts, investments in historically-Black colleges and universities and supporting children with disabilities.
“Know that we’ve got your back — all students matter,” he said, referring to his advice for students who say they’re worried about response if they report sexual harassment or sexual assault at school.
“We have to build back better and that also means making sure school environments are places where all students feel welcome and accepted.”
Title IX at CMS
The Observer reported last week on a federal investigation from 2016 to 2017 that found CMS violated part of its Title IX obligations after a student reported being raped at Myers Park High School.
According to public records, the federal education department’s Office of Civil Rights investigation stemmed from a report that an 18-year-old male student led a female student into the campus’ woods at Myers Park. She was 17 at the time she was sexually assaulted at school, according to a lawsuit she filed in December 2018.
Her lawsuit is pending, with a judge writing last year that there is initial evidence her report of sexual assault was likely not properly handled, the Observer has previously reported.
Her case and a lawsuit filed in 2019 from another former Myers Park High student with similar allegations — that the school and district mishandled her report of sexual assault — have spurred questions about CMS’ response to alleged sexual violence on campus.
The federal education department’s review of the Title IX complaint concluded that CMS officials did take some appropriate action, including notifying police, suspending the accused male for 10 days, and granting the female student’s request for a transfer.
Between the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years at Myers Park High, alone, there were 16 sexual harassment claims from students, according to CMS data previously released to the Observer.
An Observer investigation last month also found that during those same years, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police received seven reports of rape/sexual assault or forcible fondling at Myers Park High.
In recent weeks, Myers Park High students through a petition on Change.org have demanded CMS “remove” Principal Mark Bosco.
Bosco, 51, has worked in the district since 1994. He was promoted to principal at Myers Park in 2013.
Bosco could not be reached for comment on this story. According to his automated email reply, he is out of the office until Aug. 5.