High School Principle Placed On Leave After Mocking Student’s Sexual Assault Claim

A Washington D.C. high school principal captured on tape ridiculing a student who had reported a sexual assault was placed on administrative leave Thursday, September 27 by city officials amid growing calls for the principal’s ouster.

The Washington Post reported that Roosevelt High School Principal Aqueelha James can be heard on tape talking to colleagues about “embarrassing” a freshman who alleged she was assaulted on campus.

The student had approaches James in June 2017 to report that she was sexually assaulted in the school bathroom when a male student came in and forced her into a stall, kissed her and put his hand on her dress. The student said he left a hickey on her neck.


At First, The Principal Acted Supported

Principal James shared the implementation of SEL practices at Roosevelt as a global studies school. @dcpublicschools @DCGlobalEd #LearnWithDCPS @DCPSEquity #StillRising pic.twitter.com/0Tb45GMlxA

— Roosevelt HS DC (@RooseveltHSDC) July 23, 2018

According to the Daily Mail, the student and her mother met the principal in her office in July 2017, where James initially sympathetic and supported.

“I’m here to support and be of assistance. I don’t like the idea that your daughter has been assaulted sexually. It is a crime,” as The Washington Post cited James in an audio obtained. The principal also promised a swift and thorough investigation.

However, after the distraught girl abruptly left the conference room where she was meeting with James, followed by her mother, the principal took a different tone with other school officials who were present.

“I’m sick and tired of her and her mom,” James said in the recording, made by the girl’s mother on her cellphone. “This is a bunch of bulls***.”

“This . . . is going to compromise her,” James said on the recording. “So I’m going to call MPD, I’m going to have a long, drawn-out email just so that I can embarrass her.”


The Cellphone Record Left Unintentionally Became The Evidence

The parent had left the phone in the office unintentionally when she went to console her daughter outside, it’s claimed.
The student and her mother then filed a lawsuit against James and the D.C. government in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia claiming that the principal failed to adequately investigate the sexual assault allegations and that she defamed the girl by impugning her credibility to police officers, according to The Washington Post. The record is now evidence in a lawsuit seeking at least $5 million in damages.

D.C. Public Schools said on Wednesday, September 26 that an internal investigation had been launched.

A statement said: “DCPS does not tolerate sexual misconduct or harassment in our schools. We take the safety and security of all of our students seriously, and while we cannot discuss the specifics of personnel matters, when the issue at Roosevelt was brought to our attention we launched an investigation and took action.”

On Thursday morning, a spokeswoman for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said that the mayor had instructed school officials to re-examine James’ behavior. “The safety of our students is paramount, and we expect all who work with our students to be compassionate and supportive,” spokeswoman LaToya Foster told the Washinton Post.

James earns $147,000 annually and is on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues, according to the Daily Mail. She had been principal at the school since 2016.

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