CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Editor's Note: This story discusses sexual violence. Reader discretion is advised.
A former Myers Park High School student is now launching a lawsuit against the board of education for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, claiming district leaders failed to properly address a sexual assault complaint she made during her time on campus.
Serena Evans, who has previously spoken out about her experience at the school, filed the suit this week with her attorney, Christiana Graziano. The lawsuit lodges five key complaints against the district: that CMS violated Title IX of the Education Amendments Act, that the district did not protect her, that CMS was negligent, that school leaders did not do their duty to investigate, and that school leadership intentionally inflicted emotional distress on Evans.
Evans and Graziano are demanding a jury trial for all issues submitted to the court, and seek at least $75,000 in damages from the district.
According to the lawsuit, Evans experienced sexual harassment from other male classmates as early as 7th grade. At the time, she was a student at Alexander Graham Middle School from 2014-2015. Evans said she reported the harassment and even noted teachers and administrators observed and overheard it. She claims she was told to "ignore the boy" and grant them grace because "girls mature faster than boys do".
Evans' lawsuit claims it got worse at Myers Park High School. She alleges sexual activity happened in bathrooms on campus. Ultimately, Evans' lawsuit said an older male student raped her during her freshman year in 2016.
After she reported the incident, Evans claims she faced further bullying and harassment on campus. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims Evans and her mother never heard from Mark Bosco, who was the principal at the time.
During previous protests at Myers Park in 2021, Evans said school leadership effectively told her to keep things quiet.
“It’s trauma, it stays with you for the rest of your life,” she told WCNC Charlotte in June 2021. “I thought that my rape got pushed under the rug mostly because my rapist was a star football player.”
Evans has also joined protest action at other CMS schools, including when a 15-year-old student at Olympic High School was charged with a sexual assault that reportedly happened on that campus.
Bosco was later reassigned to a different role within CMS but district officials never provided a reason for the job change.
In a statement to WCNC Charlotte, Graziano said of her client:
"Serena Evans is one of the bravest young women I've encountered in my career. She is a survivor of two kinds of abuse - the physical assault she suffered at the hands of a classmate, and the institutional betrayal of Myers Park High School and the greater Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system. Her story is unfortunately one of many, as scores of fellow survivors have felt empowered to speak out as a result of Ms. Evans and her story. We look forward to pursuing justice on behalf of Ms. Evans and her fellow CMS survivors by commencing this lawsuit."
WCNC Charlotte has reached out to Bosco's attorney for comment, along with CMS. CMS told WCNC Charlotte it does not comment on litigation.