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Title IX, Concerns Over Myers Park High School On Plate At CMS Board Meeting

Jodie Valade

Former Myers Park High student Nikki Wombwell was ready to voice her concerns over the leadership of Principal Mark Bosco at Tuesday night’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board meeting. Wombwell claimed in a lawsuit, which 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.

On Friday, news broke that Bosco was suspended with pay, but Wombwell still plans to speak at the meeting.

"I think it’s still really important that people show up to push for a full investigation — to push for better recordkeeping, to push for clearer Title IX policies and to push for survivors to be included in the conversation," Wombwell said. "So there’s still a lot of important things to address."

Wombwell believes speaking during public comment portions of school board meetings is the most effective way to communicate with board members since, she says, her emails go unanswered.

Last month, students and school board members were scheduled to meet to discuss Title IX policies. Wombwell sent an email to board members Elyse Dashew and Margaret Marshall about the meeting. She says her email was never answered, but 16-year-old Aidan Finnell, a Myers Park High student who had been one of the organizers, received an email canceling the meeting.

In the email, Marshall wrote to Finnell:

"I indicated to you earlier that Board members should not meet with individuals that have potential or past claims against the district. I have received a request from an individual who has had a claim against the district to join the meeting with you. We are not able to do this, and therefore I think it best to cancel our meeting."

Marshall did reference a group being formed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston and recommended Finnell for it.

Attorney Laura Dunn represented Wombwell in her case and is currently representing another former Myers Park High student referred to as Jane Doe. Dunn says she finds it unusual to have such a broad limit on who a school board can hear from.

"The truth is these students and alumni who have been affected by sexual violence are the exact people that they need to hear from," Dunn said, "because how else will they know where the issues are and where things need to be fixed or could have gone better?"

That feedback could come in the form of a new Title IX task force announced Friday, the same day Bosco’s suspension became public. In a statement, Winston said the student-driven group will review current reporting and support procedures.

School board member Jennifer De La Jara said she’s looking forward to hearing more about the task force at Tuesday’s meeting and that student involvement is key.

"That’s in part because we want to accept that this does happen," De La Jara said. "We are believing the students and that we want them to feel comfortable and give us suggestions based off of whatever maybe they’ve experienced how we could respond more effectively to meet whatever the needs may be."

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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.