D.C. principal caught on tape mocking student’s sexual assault claims
A high school principal in Washington D.C. is in hot water and has been put on administrative leave, due to her inappropriate reaction to a student’s claim of sexual assault on school property.
The young girl allegedly reported the incident to Aqueelha James, principal of Roosevelt High School, and emotionally detailed how a male student forced her into a bathroom stall, forcibly kissed her and then tried to put his hand up her dress. She says she escaped but that he left a hickey on her neck, which the child presented as evidence during the meeting with school officials.
Her mother, who was also present at the meeting with Principal James, left the room with her daughter. Before doing so, she accidentally left her cell phone (which was recording their initial conversation) in the conference room where the gathering was held. That’s when, according to the mother’s attorney, the smartphone recorded the principal’s troubling comments made in their absence.
“I’m here to support and be of assistance,” James initially told them while they were still present. “I don’t like the idea that your daughter has been assaulted sexually. It is a crime.”
However, once the student and her mother left the room, James shared her true feelings, stating that she was “sick of her and her mom” and that she planned to try to “embarrass her ass.” She also criticized the dress the girl was wearing.
“This is a bunch of bulls**t,” James blurted, while brazenly outlining her plans to describe the child’s attire to police, in an attempt to discredit her claims of sexual assault.
“This . . . is going to compromise her,” James can allegedly be heard saying in the audio. “And that’s why I’m going to go the extra mile and call MPD. That’s why I’m going to do all of this . . . because I’m sick of her. . . . 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 school system said it launched and closed an investigation months ago into the handling of the case, but Thursday Mayor Muriel Bowser said she had listened to the audio and called on D.C. public schools to re-examine the principal’s antics.
The student’s mother is now suing James and the D.C. officials in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Both she and her child’s names have also been withheld for their protection and the lawsuit was filed under a pseudonym.
They are seeking a minimum of $5 million in actual and punitive damages, claiming that James and school officials did not investigate the sexual assault allegations adequately and that James also defamed the minor by calling her credibility into question with authorities.
The interim chancellor of D.C. Public Schools sent a letter to Roosevelt parents informing them of the new developments.
“Please be assured that [the D.C. school system] takes the safety, security, and privacy of all of our students seriously,” wrote Amanda Alexander. “While this review is in progress, it is important for everyone that Roosevelt High School continue[s] to be a loving and challenging place of learning where students feel safe.”
James earns $147,000 annually and is currently on administrative leave. She, however, is still receiving a pay check.
— Dr. E. (Remembering Elijah McClain) (@elb3) September 28, 2018