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CMS interim superintendent speaks on new role after suspension of Wilcox

Updated: Jul. 15, 2019 at 11:36 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It may be the middle of summer, but parents, teachers and elected leaders found themselves discussing West Charlotte High School at a special meeting Monday night. The large group gathered at the Movement School in west Charlotte to talk about the search for a new principal at West Charlotte.

Mary McCray, the chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education, addressed the elephant in the room at the beginning of the meeting, taking time to explain that the district is currently under new leadership.

CMS announced Monday that superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox had been suspended, and Earnest Winston, the district’s chief engagement officer and ombudsman, would be serving as interim superintendent.

“We know that this news can cause concern and that’s why I want to reassure our students, their families, our staff members and the community that our work together for our students is continuing uninterrupted,” said McCray.

Winston was also at the Monday night meeting. He took questions from reporters and spoke about the new role he is stepping in to.

“I feel extremely encouraged,” said Winston. “I’ve had a number of community members, staff members, parents, reach out to me to express their support and so I feel very much supported.”

Winston said he’s had conversations with the board of education over the past 48 hours as he decided whether he should step in as the district’s acting leader.

“I thought long and hard about it and ultimately I said ‘yes’ because I care tremendously about this school system. I have two children of my own in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and I want nothing but the best for it.”

The interim superintendent said he began his CMS career teaching at Vance High School. He said he has also worked as a non-educator and thinks it gives him a unique perspective as he steps into the leadership role.

At Monday night’s meeting, he heard from community members who are worried about the state of West Charlotte High School. Officials are currently searching for a new principal for the high school.

Some parents fear the superintendent shake-up could prevent this West Charlotte from getting the love it deserves.

“I do not want us to get distracted. I do not want West Charlotte to be a casualty of this recent chain of events,” said Colette Forrest, a parent at Monday night’s meeting.

Winston claims that under his leadership, the focus of CMS will remain on doing what’s best for the students.

“I want to ensure that we do not miss a beat. I want parents to know that our focus will remain on making sure we do right by kids,” said the interim superintendent.

Winston said he has not spoken to Dr. Clayton Wilcox.

When asked how long he will be serving as interim superintendent, Winston replied, “as long as the board has asked me to serve in this capacity, I’m excited to do so.”

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