Hawthorne Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina is another school on the growing list that has failed its students.
Last month a 15-year-old female student informed her school administrators that she was sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate in the restroom after weeks of him following her and groping her. The girl told them it took her weeks to get the courage to go forward with her claims as she was scared.
“He would, like, come into the bathroom and he would push me into the stall,” the girl said. “He put his hands in my pants and then he was like touching my breasts.”
“The school did their investigation, gave me a phone call, and said, ‘Hey, look, unfortunately, it looks like there’s no evidence that shows that what your daughter saying took place,’ the mother said.
“We’re going to have to give her a day of suspension, and you know, so then that I asked the principal, I said, ‘well if the police are telling me that he did do these things, he admitted to them, and that I have the right to press charges, you’re telling me this didn’t happen? And she said, ‘well, unfortunately, what the law does has nothing to do to do with CMS, so, unfortunately, we have nothing else that we can do about this.’”
Rather than protecting the young girl, the administrators called her a liar and suspended her for “filing a false report” after alerting police to the report. The police had charged the male student with two counts of sexual battery and had a confession from him.
The girl’s rightly outraged mother called WBTV’s Chief Investigative Reporter Nick Ochsner whose ongoing investigation has shined a light on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ handling of reported rapes and sexual assaults.
This is not the first time the Charlotte-Mecklenberg school district has come under fire for its handling of sexual assault reports. Two former students at the neighboring Myers Park High School sued the district earlier this year, claiming the school did nothing when they reported their assaults. The lawsuits spurred protests outside the high school and the government center this summer, as well as testimony from survivors to the school board.
“I can tell you why I didn’t report what happened to me—because Myers Park High School told me there was nothing they could do to help me,” one student, who claimed she was raped in the woods near the school when she was 14, told the board. “I should have felt safe at Myers Park High School and I did not.”
In response, the school district created a Title IX Task Force and launched an awareness campaign, which included anti-harassment posters and letters to students about how to report misconduct. The former principal of Myers Park was suspended and later transferred to an administrative position, though the school did not specify why.
The students at Hawthorne Academy did not take to the administration’s suspension of the victim lightly.
The students at Hawthorne Academy left class on November 3 for a “town hall” to express their concerns over the victim’s suspension for reporting her sexual assault. The school announced this “town hall” once word reached them the students were planning on walking out of class in protest.
It’s a shame when students have to walk out in protest of a sexual assault victim being suspended from school for “lying” and “filing a false report” despite the fact the police charged the criminal. The schools are not out for the best interest of our children.
It’s time that we, as parents, stand with our children as they protest for their rights and their right to be safe while getting an education. Whether that protest is due to violence in the schools or the forced mask mandates we need to encourage our children to express their first amendment rights since our amendments have no age restrictions.