CMS’s new Title IX Task Force, formed in the wake of Myers Park scrutiny, operating in secret
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A task force formed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to evaluate how the district handles reports of sexual violence and other discrimination is operating in secret, with district leaders refusing to share details of who is on the task force or what work the group is doing.
The task force was announced by Superintendent Earnest Winston in early August, after months of scrutiny sparked by a WBTV investigation into how the district handled reported rapes and sexual assaults at Myers Park High School.
Winston has said the purpose of the task force will be to evaluate how the district handles issues related to Title IX, a federal law that aims to protect against discrimination based on sex. As part of the law, schools must track, report and investigate reports of sexual violence.
Despite that, CMS has previously told WBTV its data shows just two reported rapes reported at all district schools for the past ten years.
CMS announced late Friday that ten students had been selected to serve on the task force.
In an email sent after this story was first published, CMS spokesman Patrick Smith said the task force was made up of 17 people: 11 students and six adults, including Dr. Lisa Barnes, Behavior and Student Supports; CMSPD Chief Melissa Mangum; and Title IX Administrator Stephanie McKinney who will serve as a co-facilitator.
Smith said the three other adults were subject matter experts from community organizations but he did not provide the people’s names nor which organizations they were affiliated with.
Smith said the task force was being led by Rosalyn Allison-Jacobs, a Charlotte-based consultant who would facilitate the group’s work.
Smith’s email did not provide any details on what, specifically, the group would be doing but said the task force would work over the next 10 weeks to develop a report for Winston, the findings of which would be made public.
In his email, Smith defended the district’s decision to keep the meetings secret.
“These meetings will remain private to protect student confidentiality, empower student participants to share their voices and drive conversations and allow the team to work without disruption or public pressure,” Smith said.
But he could not provide any legal authority that allowed the meetings to be exempt from North Carolina’s open meetings law, which defines a public body to include a group of two or more people appointed by a school authority to serve in an advisory role, among other things.
The task force held its first meeting Wednesday. It is not clear when its next meeting will be held.
This story has been updated to include information provided by CMS after initial publication.
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