Union Co. dad questions how school handled daughter’s reported sexual assault

WBTV Investigates: 5th grader reported teacher touched her while playing game.
WBTV Investigates: 5th grader reported teacher touched her while playing game.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 7:15 PM EDT
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WINGATE, N.C. (WBTV) – The father of a fifth-grade student at Union Elementary School called WBTV for help after spending weeks frustrated at how the school was handling his daughter’s reported sexual assault.

A report of the incident shows school administrators first learned of the allegation on January 14, 2023. According to the initial report, the incident took place in December 2022.

WBTV does not name students who have reported being sexually assaulted nor their parents.

According to the initial report made with the school and subsequent investigative records, the girl said her PE teacher touched her inappropriately one day during class.

“She felt his hand grab her butt,” the girl’s father wrote in a Title IX grievance form.

In an interview with a Union County Public Schools investigator, the girl said the incident happened while the teacher was playing a game with students that involved pulling flags tucked into the students’ pants.

Two other students interviewed as part of the investigation corroborated the incident, internal records show.

“I got angry, I got depressed,” the girl’s father said of learning his daughter had reported being sexually assaulted.

“I personally feel like I have failed my daughter because this has happened.”

Emails reviewed by WBTV show the girl was enrolled in therapy and stayed out of school after the incident was reported.

Her father said his daughter did not feel comfortable at school with the male teacher still on the job.

“The last time she was in school was on her birthday. Even then, she felt like he just glared at her and stared the whole time,” the father said.

A UCPS spokeswoman told WBTV the teacher—who is not being identified by name because he has not been charged with a crime—was placed on administrative leave on February 21, 2023, more than a month after the initial report.

Internal investigation records show it took 10 days from the January 14 report for the school district to acknowledge the report. And that it took another week before administrators sent a letter confirming an investigation would be conducted.

The UCPS spokeswoman issued a statement saying the following:

“Union County Public Schools takes all Title IX complaints very seriously. The district has a detailed process set forth in this Board of Education Policy. Upon notification of complaints, UCPS begins the process, which includes interviews with parties involved. UCPS also implements supportive measures that include limiting contact between the parties and offering counseling to both parties. The safety of each student is extremely important. While we are not at liberty to comment on this specific complaint, our teams are following the process to address grievances.”

In a phone call with a reporter, the PE teacher declined to answer questions for this story but adamantly denied the accusations.

But the concerned father said the school has failed his daughter.

“I don’t want anything like what’s happened to her to happen to anybody,” he said. “And I want her to be able to want to go to school again.”