Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools official details start of Title IX reform as trial looms

CMS, CMPD actions on trial in sexual assault case prompted by WBTV investigation
A student reported being led into the woods by the school and raped, prompting a years-long WBTV investigation leading to major change.
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 10:37 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The actions of Myers Park High School administrators and officers at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in the wake of a student’s reported rape will go on trial Tuesday.

The case involves a student who reported being forced into the woods adjacent to the school’s campus and sexually assaulted by a male classmate. The incident was reported in early November 2015.

WBTV first uncovered the case after the student’s parents contacted the TV station in the days following the incident.

A MPHS administrator and the CMPD officer assigned to the school found the two students but accused them of skipping class.

The girl’s parents took her to the hospital to have a rape kit done but it took eight calls to 911 before CMPD would come pick up the materials.

The student filed a lawsuit against CMS, the administrator who handled her case and CMPD in 2018.

In the time since the case has been pending, a judge has twice found CMS and CMPD failed to hand over evidence as required.

The lawsuit prompted other former Myers Park High School students to come forward and detail to WBTV the experience they had after reporting sexual violence to police and school administrators.

Related: ‘They made me feel worse’: Former Myers Park HS students question CMPD response to rape reports

The scrutiny prompted by those stories led to the school’s principal being reassigned and was cited as a key reason the school board fired then-superintendent Earnest Winston last spring.

Despite the district’s pledge to improve the handling of reported sexual violence, school leaders have been largely mum on their efforts. A task force submitted dozens of recommendations to district leadership in November 2021.

But school leaders refused to address those recommendations for more than a year, until January 2023.

CMS board chairwoman Elyse Dashew refused to answer a question during a press conference in late December 2022 about the status of those recommendations.

Interim superintendent Crystal Hill did outline a list of initial action during a press conference last week.

Hill said the district’s Title IX staff has expanded from two to 11 staff members and added that all of the staff had been properly trained.

“We’ve been really strategic in making sure that our compliance in terms of when things are reported, making sure that things are reported in accurate manner. Ensuring that all parties involved are receiving an outcome letter that clearly states the incident that was reported and the steps that we’ve taken to resolve them,” Hill detailed.

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

“We’ve made sure that all Title IX contacts are listed on our website and those people are appropriate people to be in those roles. We’ve ensured that all of them have received training.”

The trial is set to begin Tuesday morning in federal court and is expected to run a week.