Is what’s being done to keep your kids safe at school enough? Experts say no.

Scrutiny comes as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools continues to grapple with the issue.
Experts say no. Scrutiny comes as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools continues to grapple with the issue.
Published: Apr. 21, 2023 at 11:11 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A group of advocates, attorneys, and other experts wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Education on Friday demanding improvements in how the department handles cases involving sexual assaults reported on school campuses.

The letter was led by attorney Laura Dunn—herself a sexual assault survivor-turned-advocate—and signed by more than three dozen others; it comes during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Specifically, the letter outlines ongoing concerns with the way the department has handled enforcing a federal law known as Title IX, which requires grade schools and universities to take certain actions in response to a reported sexual assault.

WBTV has been investigating Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ compliance with Title IX for two years, exposing a half-dozen students who say their reported sexual assault was mishandled at Myers Park High School; two students who said they faced retaliation as a result of reporting sexual assault at Hawthorne Academy High School; and, most recently, two five-year-old students whose reported sexual assaults were mishandled.

Former CMS superintendent Earnest Winston was fired in April 2022, in part over his mishandling of Title IX issues.

More recently, interim superintendent Dr. Crystal Hill has come under scrutiny for her handling of the same issues. Hill walked out of an interview with WBTV when pressed over the district’s handling of a five-year-old girl’s reported sexual assault.

The new letter, sent to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, outlines three main issues with how the office handles enforcing Title IX: years-long delays in finishing cases; narrow windows for filing complaints, first implemented during the Trump administration; delays in scheduling mediations to resolve conflicts over Title IX cases.

Dunn, the attorney who led the letter, participated in a virtual town hall streamed across WBTV’s platforms. Watch the full conversation above to hear more about your rights under Title IX, get information on how you should handle a case if you’re ever in a situation where you need to file a complaint and get answers to questions that are important to you.

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