LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. — An attack on the bus on the morning ride to school was all caught on video. A Charlotte-area mother says the elementary school principal tried to cover up the assault that was sexual in nature.
She came to WCNC Charlotte Defender Michelle Boudin for help – and for some answers.
“My heart just broke as a parent," Shannon Proctor said.
Her 9-year-old daughter had to work up the courage to tell her mom what she says another Iron Station Elementary student, a 10-year-old boy, did to her on the school bus.
"It’s a nightmare coming true -- you don’t know what to say or what to do.," Proctor said. "She told me a little boy, a 5th grader on the bus had been trapping her in the seat 1142 and taking her by her head and pressing her head into his privates.”
And she says the boy made a specific sexual demand -- it happened several times, and it was all caught on the bus camera.
“The assistant principal is over buses and he assured me it would be taken seriously, that it was a serious situation – that the authorities would be involved because they would have to report something like this because it was assault, borderline sexual assault," she said.
But a few days later Proctor says she was at school for an assembly where her daughter was being honored as a terrific kid and learned no one from the school had reported the situation to law enforcement.
“Ms. Benton, the principal, approached me and sat down next to me at a table with other parents and began discussing this incident in front of these other parents," Proctor said.
Proctor says the principal claimed her daughter was the aggressor, she says, telling her, “I think you probably need to have a conversation with her about the difference between good attention and bad attention."
"At that moment I thought I was gonna vomit," Proctor said.
Shaken, she went to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office. The detective there confirmed no one from the school had reached out.
“I think when I spoke with them they understood that it should have been reported," Lincoln County detective Kelsey Harrington told WCNC Charlotte. "I believe any time there is an assault, anyone who has knowledge of that should probably report it to law enforcement so in this case, I think they should have let us know.”
The assistant school superintendent told us in an email they decided it was a “non-reportable sexual harassment incident.”
But the lawyer for the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a group that works with school districts on these issues, told us that’s a decision best left up to law enforcement.
WCNC Charlotte got our hands on the full police report that shows the detective watched the school bus video and says it “clearly shows these incidents” as the girl described.
The report also details a physical “assault” on another boy in which the same “perpetrator admitted using racial slurs.”
According to the report, the school didn’t speak with this boy's parents either.
WCNC Charlotte reached out to the principal but she had no comment.
“The way it was dealt with is despicable -- it's deplorable," Proctor said. "The way the principal handled it and the way she tried to sweep it under the rug to me that’s inexcusable behavior and she needs to be held accountable for it.”
The assistant superintendent's office told this was an HR issue and they couldn’t tell us if the principal was disciplined, but Proctor says the school board did require her to call and apologize.
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