Earnest Winston named new Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent

CMS names new superintendent

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) named Earnest Winston the district’s top educator: CMS superintendent.

The board voted 8-0 in the decision to make Winston the superintendent during a special meeting and made the announcement Friday morning. Winston, who was already serving as the district’s acting superintendent, is contracted for three years with CMS.

Winston was named Acting Superintendent after it was announced that Dr. Clayton Wilcox would be resigning from the position, effective August 2.

Winston, who was the district’s chief engagement officer and ombudsman, released a statement soon after the the announcement about Wilcox:

"CMS students, families, staff and community members,

"We are in a time of leadership transition in our school district, but our focus on students remains clear because they are what matter most.

"As your Acting Superintendent, I am committed to providing stability, to steady leadership and to making sure our work in CMS continues without interruption.

"I have served our school district for 15 years...as a teacher in the classroom, an administrator, as Chief of Staff and most recently as Chief Community Relations and Engagement Officer.

"But my most important job in CMS is being a parent. My expectations are the same as yours and together we will keep moving forward to meet those expectations.

"How will we move forward together?

"We will teach and learn with high expectations and a challenging curriculum. We will remain committed to providing equity for all students. We will graduate the class of 2020 with diplomas that are keys to real opportunities...that’s how we move forward.

"We will do this work with our talented teachers, outstanding support staff and dedicated principals, but also with our volunteers, community and corporate partners and faith-based organizations...that’s how we move forward.

"CMS will welcome students back in August with smiles…with clean, safe schools…with more supports for students than ever…with well-prepared teachers, classrooms and staff…with confidence and with clarity that our students matter most…that’s how we move forward.

"I am excited to continue to work with you in my new role. Stay in touch with us at wearecms.com or on social media for updates.

"During this time of transition, thank you for your support of all of our 147,000 students, our 19,000 employees and each other across our Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools community.

“Together, we will keep moving forward.”

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

Winston is also a former journalist and joined CMS in 2004 as an English teacher at Vance High school. Winston and his wife have two children enrolled in CMS.

“I am humbled and grateful to the Board and the community for the trust placed in me. It is my honor and privilege to serve our community’s students, families, CMS employees and partners,” Winston said. “The district team is preparing to welcome students back for a smooth opening of schools on Aug. 26. We are moving forward together on our commitment to equity through our 2024 strategic plan. Our shared focus is on what matters most – great teaching and learning for every student in every school.”

CMS says their decision was unanimous and is reflective of their faith and believe in Winston.

“We know that we must keep moving forward together because none of us can be satisfied with the status quo. CMS must make good on a real commitment to equity and to the achievement of all of our students. We are confident that we are moving forward with the right work and in the right direction,” CMS said. “Right now, our students, their families, our employees and the community must trust that that we are also moving forward from a foundation of steady leadership.”

In the past decade, CMS has had five superintendents.

The suspension of Wilcox puts CMS into the second leadership crisis in five years, after former Superintendent Heath Morrison was forced to resign in November 2014.

Sources say there were several things that led up to Dr. Wilcox’s suspension. One area of concern was that the district stopped fingerprinting new employees for the past year, sources say. The board was not pleased when they found out.

“Earnest Winston is the right leader to provide trusted, steady executive leadership,” CMS said. “We are thankful for the leadership of Superintendent Winston. We look forward to welcoming students back to school on August 26 and we welcome the support of this community of our students, teachers, principals, schools and staff in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.”

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