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School Makes Arrest Policy Change After Protest

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Students protested outside Olympic High School in Charlotte, N.C., on Friday after a student was allowed to participate in football despite being charged with sexual assault.

As reported by WCCB in Charlotte, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said a 15-year-old Olympic High School student was arrested for the alleged sexual assault of another teen at the school on September 14. The accused suspect was charged with attempted second-degree rape, second-degree kidnapping, and sexual battery.

Because of the suspect's age, his identity was not shared in media reports. However, his peers protested the fact that he was allowed to participate in an Olympic High School football game the previous week.

In a statement Friday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools athletic director Ericia Turner said, “Sometimes we have to make tough decisions, and this incident, we did not make the right call. We will make it clear to our coaches and our athletic directors that we must uphold standards aligned to our student code of conduct. Moving forward, any student athlete that is arrested or charged for a criminal offense will not be allowed to participate in athletics while the charges are pending.”

Meanwhile, WNCT reported that the North Carolina High School Athletic Association issued the following statement:

“NCHSAA policy only takes effect after a conviction. Schools or school systems may have a more stringent, not less stringent, policy in place than the NCHSAA policy.Schools do not have to notify the NCHSAA if a student has been arrested. Eligibility matters, which this would be one, are handled at the local school/system level.The Association takes all charges seriously, as we expect student-athletes to be leaders in the classroom, on the field or court, and in the community. As a matter of policy, we do not bar students from competition unless there has been a conviction or adjudication as delinquent as described in our felony policy.However, schools and coaches should be empowered to put in disciplinary measures in place for any individual they believe is not living up to the standard of behavior they hold for their student-athletes and members of their programs.We support our member school coaches and administrators as they use disciplinary action at their discretion to reinforce the life-long lessons that should be a part of a wholesome education-based athletics program.“

Prior to the protest, CMS stated its awareness of and support for the student demonstration.

"CMS has taken action to protect classroom instruction at Olympic High School from disruption and to maintain safety of students in the classroom," the statement read, as reported by WCCB. "These actions also will protect the safety of the school’s student-athletes during practices and competition. We cannot provide any further detail of those actions and cannot comment about any individual student due to FERPA.

"The district is aware of a student-driven demonstration planned for today at Olympic High School. CMS and school leaders support the right of students to demonstrate when they feel such expression is necessary. School leaders have met with student organizers and are working to minimize disruption to the learning day while offering students the opportunity to share their concerns.

"In view of recent events, district leadership is reviewing procedures related to eligibility for participation in extracurricular activities. We will share any changes in current procedures when any such changes occur."

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