CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Questions still surround the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools’ decision to allow a student to play football, despite charges related to a reported sexual assault case and the wearing of an ankle monitor.
The district said on Friday it “made the wrong call,” without explicitly referring to the incident or the student in question.
However, the move came after protests and a walkout took place earlier today by students, which highlighted cases of sexual assault, including an incident in September at the school.
Students who took part in the protest now say they are being punished for the protests, and the community’s backlash is escalating.
“It’s almost like they’re trying to silence this group of young people who will help make a difference in the future,” said Melissa McAtee, a mentor to students at Olympic High School. McAtee said one of the students she mentors is a volleyball player who was suspended from a game for participating in the walkout.
“The students who were inside were not allowed to go out,” McAtee said. “The students who were outside were not allowed to enter. Some students gave food to those outside and they were suspended from school. “
A spokesperson for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools said on Monday that the problem, mainly, was not with the protest. They noted that there was an opportunity to participate in an indoor demonstration. The spokesperson said that once the walkout was done it was a “danger to the safety of students, staff and others in the area,” and noted that “the students who chose to go out were informed that they could face consequences due to violations such as unauthorized absence or endangering themselves and others.
Volleyball student and protest organizer Sereniti Simpson said she was suspended from Tuesday’s volleyball game against Berry Academy, along with several others, for participating in the walkout.
“In order for a person being investigated for a criminal offense not to gamble, you have to protest, come out, involve the media, all just so that one person doesn’t gamble,” Simpson said. “Yet within hours, they made the decision to seat six girls (on the volleyball team).”
On Wednesday there was a media availability after a CMS event which Superintendent Earnest Winston was in attendance. Media were urged to limit questions to the reason for availability, namely the renaming of Barringer Elementary to Parker Academic Center. However, just before the superintendent came to speak to the media, he left.
A FOX 46 team caught up with Winston in the parking lot as he was leaving, waving to them.
Repeated requests for an interview with the Superintendent have so far gone unanswered.
The Olympic High School Homecoming game is scheduled for Friday.
When asked if another protest was taking place, before or during this game, Simpson said she was not aware of anything, but noted: “I see a protest happening, even though it is people wearing the same color, coming with signs or something like that… because the community is so outraged.