Concerns over new CMS principal - | WBTV Charlotte

Concerns over new CMS principal


Parents at Irwin Academic Center are concerned about the selection of the school's new principal.

M. Jo Shirely was appointed to takeover the school July 1. She comes from Beaufort, SC. The current principal got a new job in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district (CMS) Human Resources Department.

Colette Forrest is a Irwin Academic Center parent. The mother has a son in kindergarten. She is concerned about the principal's background. Shirley has experience dealing with challenged schools and boosting test scores there. Irwin is a magnet school where students are already succeeding.

"These kids are already above par," Forrest said. "What's your game plan. I don't know if she has the experience that is needed to keep up with the rigor and continue the success."

The other concern is the lack of involvement parents had in choosing the new principal. Irwin's student population consists of more than 60% African American. And at the time of the interview no African American parent was on the selection committee.

"It's good that the population is represented during the interview process," the parent said. "That's just logical to me."

Here's the problem. During the first round of interviews, a diverse mix of parents participated. But no candidate stood out to them, so CMS went looking for more candidates.

When they found more candidates they gave parents three days to get ready for the second round of interviews. The interviews happened on Good Friday, the start of students Spring Break. Parents had plans and couldn't make. Only one parent showed up.

"I just wonder," Forrest said. "Could not have the interview been rescheduled, so that we can ensure that we have a diverse population participating in the interview - representing minorities and parents."

Forrest met with CMS zone superintendent, Kit Rea, about this matter. Rea told Forrest, Shirley impressed people in the interview and claims Shirley does have a plan to move the magnet school forward.

Rea told WBTV there was a diverse group who interviewed Shirley. Teachers and staff were also in the meeting. CMS says it did nothing wrong while Forrest thinks more effort should have been done to include parents.

Forrest says she will keep watch over the principal when she takes over to make sure the school continues to progress.

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