CMS school board welcomes new members and tackles diversity

CMS school board welcomes new members and tackles diversity

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board (CMS) voted on new leadership at its Tuesday night board meeting. Mary McCary was re-elected as chairperson. This is her fifth year being selected to lead the board. She says she will be more intentional about her role this time around.

"We're going to really pay attention to what our vision and our mission and what our core beliefs are, and hope that we are executing on what those are and really set some perimeters," McCray said.

McCray's term as board chair will be one year. We asked where will the CMS school board be when her term is up.

"I can say that under our leadership and with some gentle prodding with the superintendent, I think we are going to be in a better place," McCray said.

District One school board member Rhonda Lennon beat out former Vice Chairperson At-Large board member Elyse Dashew.

New CMS school board member Carol Sawyer nominated Dashew while Ruby Jones nominated Lennon. Lennon, who is now the longest serving CMS school board member, says the shuffling at the top was needed.

"We just decided that maybe it was time to make a change and I really wanted to step into a leadership role and I am very excited to be working as a team on the leadership team of the board of education," Lennon said.

Lennon says as the new board vice chair her constituents can expect her to do the work.

"Someone who is very communicative, very transparent, who's really coming from a district seat but really representing the needs of the whole county," Lennon said.

McCray says there was a method selecting Lennon to board leadership. McCray has two more years on the board.

"With me not seeking re-election and moving on and transitioning off, we need experience to come in and be ready to pick up and go so there can't be a lapse in anything, so we have to groom," McCray said.

McCray also says another shuffle in leadership could happen sooner rather than later. McCray says she probably won't seek a sixth time being board chair meaning the spot will be open in another year.

"It comes a time when you just want to be a board member." McCray said.

Also at Tuesday night's meeting three new CMS school board members were sworn in. Carol Sawyer now represents District Four taking the place of Tom Tate who did not seek re-election. Margaret Marshall represents District Five replacing Eric Davis who also didn't seek re-election. Sean Strain represents District Six replacing Paul Bailey who ran for the office as mayor in Matthews and won.

The school board heard the first reading of proposed changes to the district's Multiculturalism Policy. The change includes added language as CMS must educate all students no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.

The wording before only included gender, race, nationality or religion.

CMS says federal guidelines requires school districts to be more inclusive since the classrooms are becoming more diverse. School leaders say this is not pushing a social agenda, but it's about obeying the law.

"You heard the members being sworn in tonight," McCray said. "They said they would uphold the Constitution of the United States and they will uphold the Constitution of North Carolina and I think our Constitution says we do not discriminate."

The public will be able to weigh in on the Multiculturalism policy change before the school board approves it.

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