CMS Superintendent responds after student walkout, protest at Olympic High School last Friday

The protest happened outside of Olympic High School. It comes after a girl alleged that she was sexually assaulted at the school last month.
CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston says they encourage students to let their voices but a demonstration should not interfere with the school day.
Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 6:10 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 8, 2021 at 11:25 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It’s been one week since more than 100 Olympic High School students walked out of the building in an hours-long protest.

The protest happened outside of Olympic High School. It comes after a girl alleged that she was sexually assaulted at the school last month.

Related: Dozens protest outside Olympic High following alleged sexual assault at the school

A 15-year-old boy, who was known to the victim, was located and interviewed by detectives in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s sexual assault unit, police said.

At the end of the interview, the 15-year-old was charged with attempted second-degree rape, second-degree kidnapping, and sexual battery, according to law enforcement.

Related: CMPD: Teen charged after girl says she was sexually assaulted at school

CMS released a statement following the protest. “No Olympic High School student-athlete, who participated in a recent football game, has been charged with any offense committed on campus,” a spokesperson with the district said.

On Friday, Superintendent Earnest Winston toured Olympic High School, afterwards, he answered questions surrounding the protest.

The protest happened outside of Olympic High School. It comes after a girl alleged that she was sexually assaulted at the school last month.

“I encourage students to work with our school administrators, our principals when they want to demonstrate and have their voices heard so that we’re doing it in an orderly way that is not disruptive to the instructional school day,” Winston said.

Last Friday CMS Athletic Director Ericia Turner indicated a student-athlete was recently allowed to play with pending charges.

“My experience as a principal, athletic director, and coach lets me know that sometimes we have to make tough decisions and in this incident, we did not make the right call,” Turner said.

In a separate statement, CMS addressed where a football player was allowed to play while charged with a felony in a different incident.

“We can confirm that a student-athlete who participated in a recent football game is charged with a felony offense alleged to have occurred away from campus,” a spokesperson from the district said.

She says they are now reviewing eligibility for students with pending criminal charges.

Related: ‘We must uphold standards:’ CMS revising student eligibility standards for extra-curricular activities

“We will make it clear to our coaches and our athletic directors that we must uphold standards aligned to our student code of conduct. Moving forward, any student-athlete that is arrested or charged for a criminal offense will not be allowed to participate in athletics while the charges are pending,” Turner said.

Earlier this week, an Olympic High School volleyball player says she and some of her teammates were given a verbal punishment for participating in last week’s protest. She says they were benched from playing.

“On the baseline, I went up to her (coach) and I said I will not be punished for protesting and handed in my jerseys,” said former volleyball player Sereniti Simpson.

Simpson gave WBTV an email from Principal Casey Jones that said in part, “Students who walk out of class or leave school unauthorized can be disciplined in alignment with the CMS Code of Conduct.”

Simpson says she is frustrated that she and other players were disciplined for protesting while the football player with a felony charge was allowed to still play.

Winston says he could not comment on any disciplinary actions for specific students.

“I do have information that I’m not privy to share but I have a more comprehensive view of the circumstances,” Winston said.

Winston is encouraging students to let their voices be heard on topics that concern them.

“I want to reiterate the fact to students - that done the appropriate way should and are welcome to have their voices heard,” Winston said.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association standards are below:

Conviction, or adjudication as delinquent, happens in a court of law and any student with a felony conviction is not eligible to participate in athletics at an NCHSAA member school.

If a student has not been convicted, whether they face charges or not, NCHSAA policy does not prohibit that student from participating provided they meet all other NCHSAA and Local eligibility standards. Local eligibility policies and rules may always be more restrictive than the NCHSAA policy on a given subject.

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