CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – When Olympic High School students took part in a protest and walkout on Friday, there was an honest sense of resolve. The walkout lasted all day, with students lining Sandy Porter Road.
“I think it went very well,” said Sereniti Simpson, organizer of the protest. “It was more than what I could’ve expected.”
With the exception of one incident, where something was thrown at an adult, the protest and walkout was peaceful. But according to CMS, the fact that the protest turned into a walkout is now a point of contention.
According to Simpson, it also got her suspended from the school’s volleyball team.
“I went to practice on Monday, to which our coach went on about how disappointed she was in the girls who were there,” said Simpson. “She went on to say we have no right to interrupt a school day.”
Simpson said she, along with several other students on the volleyball team, got suspended for at least one game for participating in the walkout.
Student mentor Melissa McAtee has heard from other students affected by this game suspension, and called what happened “absolutely hypocritical.”
McAtee supported Friday’s protest and the reason for it; a student, accused of sexual assault, being allowed to play football at a recent Olympic High game.
“We want our kids to speak up and speak out,” said McAtee.
The action did result in a change to CMS policy. On Friday, the district’s athletic director said that “student athletes that are arrested or charged for a criminal offense will not be allowed to participate in athletics while charges are pending.”
In a statement on Tuesday, responding to FOX 46’s request for additional information on the volleyball team suspensions, CMS sent a statement.
It is important to separate the demonstration in the school gym from the walkout that occurred afterward.
Students planned an indoor demonstration and school officials authorized the demonstration to enable students to share their voice regarding a topic they felt deserved such attention. No students have been disciplined for participating in the demonstration.
The walkout was not part of the planned protest, and was a safety hazard for students, staff and others in the area. Students who chose to walk out were informed they could face consequences due to such violations as unauthorized absence or endangering themselves and others.
We cannot address discipline for specific students due to privacy laws.
The punishment was much quicker than for the alleged student,” said Kamila Simpson, mother of Sereniti, referring to the student charged with sexual assault.Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
“The punishment was much quicker than for the alleged student,” said Kamila Simpson, mother of Sereniti, referring to the student charged with sexual assault.
Rather than face consequences, Sereniti Simpson said she opted to turn in her jersey. She said she had no regrets about it, and noted the bigger concern she has now is for raising awareness of and about sexual assault.
“It’s not a rare issue,” said Simpson. “It’s not a foreign issue, and it affects all of us every day.”