Charlotte: Students Protest High School’s Dismissal of Sexual Assaults

Cover photo: Instagram user @southsideproductionclt

By Dontay Stevenson

Last Tuesday, a crowd of over 100 students and community members protested Myers Park High School because the administration ignored numerous sexual assaults for years. The protest, organized by five students, denounced the school administration, especially the principal Mark Bosco, whom students demand be fired for his handling of sexual violence.

The protest was organized after numerous sexual assault cases were made public. In 2019, former student Nikki Wombwell, under the pseudonym Jill Roe, filed a lawsuit against Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) after the school district failed to investigate her sexual assault case in the woods near the school. Since then, dozens of other victims have stepped forward to protest the sexual violence at the school.

In 2014, Wombwell reported her case to the school resource officer (a police officer stationed at the school), who dismissed it and told her that if an investigation found no criminal charges, she would be punished for having sex on campus. The same resource officer dismissed a similar case a year later in 2015, and other women who have come forward have also had their assaults ignored by the police.

Multiple students gave speeches in front of the school last week about being sexually assaulted, the hostile environment towards female students, and the school’s attempts to sweep such cases under the rug. “You do not care about [the students] as you claim to,” one organizer said, referring to the school administration. “You care about the money and the funds!”

Police were stationed around the parking lots of the school during the protest, and the student organizers say they were told the protest would not be allowed on school grounds.

Principal Bosco was criticized in the speeches for making sexist comments in defense of his neglect towards the sexual assault cases. According to court records, at a 2015 student assembly Bosco warned that school leaders “could not protect” students if they went into the woods (where some of the sexual assaults happened) and told male students that “in these cases, you’re guilty until proven innocent because that’s just the price we pay for being men.”

Organizer Aidan Finell told Tribune that organizers and students are calling for Bosco’s resignation and for CMS to conduct an internal investigation into Bosco and his actions towards students.

The protest ended with the organizers calling for Myers Park High School to issue a public apology to all past and current students, enact district-wide policy change, and include units on sexual violence in sexual education classes.


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