CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), Dr. Heath Morrison, is set to resign as the head of one of the nation's largest school districts for family reasons.
"It is because I am so proud of our school district and humbled by the accomplishments of our employees, that it is so difficult for me to announce that I am stepping down as the superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools effective Thursday, November 6th," Morrison said in a statement released on Monday, "This has been the most difficult professional decision of my career. It has been with deep reflection and prayer that I have decided this is what I must do."
"While serving as superintendent is an honor and privilege, it requires a singular and unwavering focus. Recent events have challenged that focus, and I must now rededicate myself to my family, most especially my mother. When I first started here in CMS, I was excited about having my professional career closer to her, however I can't give my job the full attention it needs while making sure I address her needs at this critical time," Morrison said.
He continued, "During drives back and forth, I have been thinking about the demands of this position. There are the anticipated challenges such as developing a budget, promoting the district's interest in the upcoming legislative session, and exhausting every avenue to reward our employees for the work they do. There are also always unanticipated challenges, which is why this job demands full attention and focus. Roy Disney once said, 'It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.' While I understand the meaning of this quote, when your values are in conflict with your obligations, these decisions are still wrenching."
"Each day for the past two and a half years, I have been driven by a singular focus: 'Every child, every day, for a better tomorrow.'" Morrison said, "It has been an incredible honor to lead the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools on a journey to go from good to great. Not great for accolades and honors, as CMS has been awarded them, but great for 145,363 reasons -- our amazing students."
The district's Deputy Superintendent, Ann Clark, will assume the responsibilities of superintendent as part of her duties as second-in-command. The board says it will seek a replacement for Morrison, but has not made any plans as to when that search will begin.
Morrison has been with CMS since July 2012, when he took over after Dr. Peter Gorman who also resigned from the district.
The latest numbers show CMS educates more than 144,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade in 164 schools.
In October 2013, Dr. Morrison unveiled a revised strategic plan for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, which identified six goals for the district. It placed a focus on academic achievement, graduation rates and preparing students for post-secondary success.
Graduation rates were on the rise, according to a report released in October. The district's rate rose to 85.2%, last year it was 81%.
Before coming to Charlotte, Morrison worked at the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada. He was named superintendent of the year in 2011 by the Nevada Association of School Superintendents and also by the Nevada Association of School Boards.
In 2012, he was named national superintendent of the year by the American Association of School Administrators.
Before joining WCSD, Dr. Morrison was community superintendent for the Down County Consortium in Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. He has also worked as a principal in Charles County, Maryland.