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‘Show us you care:’ CMS students share frustrations at board meeting over district’s response to sexual violence

More than a dozen students took to the podium at Tuesday’s meeting.
The fallout continues over how Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools leaders handles reported rapes and sexual assaults.
Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 6:11 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - More than a dozen former and current Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students expressed their concerns over how the district has handled reports of sexual violence.

A WBTV investigation last spring uncovered a half-dozen women who reported being raped or sexually assaulted at Myers Park High School with nothing done by police or administrators.

The district formed a task force in the wake of scrutiny prompted by WBTV’s investigation to study how to better handle reported sexual violence, but as of last month, none of the task force’s recommendations have been implemented.

Related: No action from CMS months after report, recommendations on addressing sexual violence

“CMS, how many more innocent victims is it going to take? How many more lives have to be shattered? How much louder do we have to be?” said Serena Evans.

Evans made an emotional plea before the board of education on Tuesday. She is a former CMS student who reported being raped at Myers Park High School in 2016.

Evans was one of more than a dozen speakers calling for increased accountability from CMS on the handling of sexual assaults.

A months-long WBTV investigation unveiled the district failed to keep track of sexual assaults and rapes reported on its campuses within the last decade.

Other former students, including former Myers Park High School student Nikki Wombwell, shared their story.

“I was raped by an ex-boyfriend in the woods on campus after he told me had brought a gun to school,” Wombwell said.

Just last month CMS told WBTV it was still in the planning phase on how to implement recommendations from the Title IX task force on how to better address sexual assaults on campus.

The task force was made up of 11 students from around the district, select CMS staff members and members of the community who work at organizations that are involved in preventing and responding to sexual violence.

Nearly all of the task force’s work was conducted in secret. Its final report was prepared in November 2021 and CMS officials released it to the public in December.

The report contains a total of 63 recommendations - many from the students and some from the adult task force members - on how the district can improve its handling of reported sexual violence.

Wombwell and other speakers say more needs to be done.

“Your students are listening. When you delay accountability or meaningful change it sends a clear message you don’t care. Please show us you care,” Wombwell said.

Other students asked the district to do more specific training and lessons on Title IX, educate students on consent, have a designated staff member to report incidents to, and see clear actions from the district following the task force’s recommendations.

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