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Myers Park High Principal Suspended Following Sexual Assault Response Complaints; CMS Forms Title IX Task Force

Jodie Valade

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has suspended Myers Park High School Principal Mark Bosco with pay, a CMS official confirmed Friday.

Both Bosco and the school have come under fire for the way they have handled reports of sexual assault and harassment from former students.

News of the suspension came on the same day CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston emailed staff to tell them he is forming a Title IX task force to help the school district better respond to Title IX violations — including harassment and assault.

Former Myers Park High student Nikki Wombwell claimed in a lawsuit that is now settled that Bosco discouraged her from pursuing her case when she told him she had been sexually assaulted in the wooded area adjacent to the school.

Wombwell said Friday's news of Bocso’s suspension made her believe survivors are finally being heard. But she says Bosco’s suspension is only the beginning of needed change.

"He is a big part of the puzzle and it’s a really, really important first step," Wombwell said. "But I just don’t want him to become the scapegoat as though he is the entire problem and this isn’t massively systemic and ongoing."

Bosco's contract was scheduled to be renewed at a CMS board meeting last month but was not; CMS called it an "administrative oversight" because he was on leave.

Two officials with the CMS communication department said they did not know the type of leave he is on, when it started, or if there is an end date. An out-of-office email from Bosco said he would be out of office until Aug. 5.

The CMS statement said Bosco’s contract would be recommended for renewal at the next school board meeting, which is Tuesday.

In Winston's email to staff Friday, he said the newly formed task force will review current reporting and support procedures to ensure that schools are responding promptly and effectively to claims including harassment, assault, or violations under Title IX. It will be made up of students from every community, outnumbering CMS staff members, with someone outside of CMS taking the lead and helping the group make finalized recommendations on how to improve CMS procedures for Title IX violations.

Winston expects a completed report for him to review by the end of the first quarter of the upcoming school year.

Attorney Laura Dunn who has represented Myers Park students in cases alleging the school mishandled reports of sexual assault — including Wombwell — believes pressure from the community led to Bosco’s suspension.

"All the sustained efforts by all the students, the survivors, their parents, have made a difference," Dunn said. "If people aren’t responsive right away don’t give up. Come back ten-fold and keep demanding justice."

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Sarah Delia is a Senior Producer for Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Sarah joined the WFAE news team in 2014. An Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, Sarah has lived and told stories from Maine, New York, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Sarah received her B.A. in English and Art history from James Madison University, where she began her broadcast career at college radio station WXJM. Sarah has interned and worked at NPR in Washington DC, interned and freelanced for WNYC, and attended the Salt Institute for Radio Documentary Studies.