A 5-Year-Old Was Allegedly Assaulted on a School Bus and Then Forced to Sit With Her Attacker

This school district has been repeatedly accused of silencing students who report sexual misconduct.

A North Carolina school district that has been repeatedly accused of ignoring or silencing students’ reports of sexual misconduct recently failed to do enough to help  a 5-year-old girl who reported  being sexually assaulted on the school bus, according to a new report from local news outlet WBTV. The girl was even allegedly forced to once again sit next to one of the boys who she says attacked her.


The 5-year-old girl said she was inappropriately touched by two boys on February 6, 2022, according to a school write-up of the incident obtained by WBTV.

“She said one boy was trying to get her to kiss another,” the write-up read. “The ‘fat boy’ was pushing her face against the window of the bus. She told her mother that one of the boys ‘put his fingers inside my cootie and was playing around.’”

The girl’s mother told WBTV that one of the boys also exposed himself to the girl.

After the girl’s mother reported the incident to the school, administrators initially promised to sit the girl next to an older female student on the bus, as well as sit her in front within the eyeline of the bus driver, according to WBTV. But instead, when the girl got back on the bus, she had to sit next to one of her alleged attackers, her mom told the outlet.

But the school district, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, never called the girl’s mother again, the mother told WBTV. “I didn’t know what else to do,” she said. “The principal, she wasn’t offering any help at all.”

Over the last few years, multiple current and former students have accused officials at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools of failing to take accounts of sexual assault seriously—or even threatening people who come forward with allegations of being sexually assaulted on campus. A monthslong VICE News investigation last year found that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools had been investigated at least three times by the federal government for its handling of sex discrimination complaints, with mixed results. 


At least two former students have said that, when they tried to report being raped at Myers Park High School, a prestigious school in the district, they were threatened with suspension if their stories didn’t add up. One of those students has settled a lawsuit with the district, while the other has sued. At least two more have said that Myers Park officials failed to respond appropriately to their reports of on-campus sexual assault; a federal court cleared the district of wrongdoing in one of those cases earlier this year, although the case has been appealed.

A student at another school, Hawthorne Academy, said in 2021 that she had reported being sexually assaulted on campus to both police and school administrators, but while police made an arrest in the case, the school said this student had filed a false report, suspended her, and required her to attend a class called Sexual Harassment Is Preventable. Yet another Hawthorne student said that, after she reported a male classmate had exposed himself, the school made her sign what she called an “NDA.”

The district has generally denied wrongdoing.

A task force meant to evaluate Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ approach to handling sexual misconduct reports released recommendations for the district in December 2021, but it did not begin to act on many of these recommendations until this year, according to the Charlotte Observer editorial board.

“What, if anything, is CMS learning from this? The fact that these allegations continue to surface suggests perhaps not enough,” the board wrote in an editorial this week. “The first step to fixing any problem is admitting that one exists, and CMS has seemed reluctant to fully do so.”

In a statement to VICE News, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools said that the district is aware of the recent report and has contacted police as well as the district’s Title IX office, which handles sexual misconduct complaints. “Onsite counseling services and other supportive measures have been offered for those impacted by the incident,” the district said.

“We want to emphasize that the school followed the proper protocol when they were notified of the incident,” the district continued. “We have been working diligently to ensure that we are handling this matter appropriately. As a reminder, we are required under federal law not to impose any disciplinary action or sanctions until the investigation is complete.”