CMS Board member says frustrated with lack of information in Hawthorne Academy sexual assault case


CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board member Rhonda Cheek released a new statement on Wednesday evening expressing frustration with senior CMS staff for not providing any information about the student from Hawthorne Academy High School who was suspended after reporting he was sexually assaulted.

Cheek emailed a statement in response to an email WBTV sent to every school board member on Monday asking for a reaction to what we found out.

Only one other board member, Sean Strain, responded to the email. Strain said he couldn’t comment because he had not been informed.

In his statement, Cheek reiterated the lack of information provided to board members.

I cannot comment on this matter as I still have not been briefed or provided information about this situation in Hawthorne, ”Cheek said.

“I will share that I am frustrated by this lack of information,” the statement continued. “I realize that there are sometimes legal reasons for limited information, but to date I have not obtained any information.”

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The statement went on to say that she is also frustrated that the issue of sexual assault continues to be raised.

“I am frustrated that we are in a place where we still have these concerns. I will continue to press for answers. I will continue to push for change, ”she said.

Other than Cheek and Strain, no CMS board member responded to WBTV.

On Tuesday, three board members declined to answer questions from chief investigative reporter Nick Ochsner when he appeared at a public meeting.

Likewise, no one from CMS has been in contact with the high school student Hawthorne Academy or his mother since WBTV started asking questions.

She remains suspended and still has to attend a course called Sexual Harassment is Avoidable.

Superintendent Earnest Winston, who was not at Tuesday’s public school board meeting and was not faced with questions on camera, released a further written statement late Wednesday afternoon.

“As a parent, I understand the concerns many families share about media coverage of misconduct incidents. It’s hard for me not to give in to the parental instinct to provide information to help others better understand situations, which often turn out to be more complex than the reports might suggest.

As the district chief, I am required by law not to divulge confidential information on matters such as the individual discipline of students or ongoing police investigations.

WBTV has already offered to a spokesperson for Winston for the Hawthorne Academy student and her mother to allow CMS to discuss her case, so that CMS can more fully respond to our investigation. This offer has not received any response.

Learn more about the WBTV investigation into CMS handling of reported rape and sexual assault

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