CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte - Mecklenburg School Board (CMS) is one step closer to establishing an Office of Compliance and Transparency. This new office will provide CMS the oversight needed to make sure the district stays above the law.
The proposed policy states the office will assist the board to ensure employees implement, follow and execute federal and state laws and the Board’s policies. If approved the board will hire a Chief Compliance and Transparency Officer.
“What we are trying to do now as a board is get out in front,” CMS School Board Chairperson Mary McCray said. “And make sure that if a department is doing something different than what policy says - that this person not going to be a gotcha person, but a person who can go in and say OK - are you aware that this is what board policy says.”
McCray admits board members don’t know it all when it comes to what employees are supposed to follow and not follow.
“It is very difficult,” McCray said. “Even for board members to know every policy that we have on the books.”
If established earlier, this office could have prevented former CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox from entering a contract with a company that didn’t perform fingerprinting on new employees. It is currently CMS policy to have all employees get fingerprinted to beef up the district’s background checks. There is no word if the Office of Compliance and Transparency will review each contract before it is signed, but that wouldn’t hurt.
“Everyone then would have known,” McCray said. “Ok - board policy that you will fingerprint and this is what you have to do - is this company able to do that - provide that service?”
The board is scheduled to take this matter up at its next meeting on October 22nd. No word, if approved, how much money it will take to fund this office but the policy committee thinks this office is good to have.
“It gives you another layer of protection,” McCray said. “In a sense that what you are doing is not against federal laws, state or local board policy.”
Another function of the Office of Compliance and Transparency is it will be the office to investigate any credible allegations of serious misconduct against the Superintendent, General Counsel, or any Associate Superintendent.
“That person would be independent of the superintendent,” McCray said. “That person or that department will be a direct report to the board.”
Some would say it is hard to believe that CMS - a $1.5 billion operation - doesn’t already have these checks and balances in place. McCray says the district doesn’t and believes establishing this office now will save the school district in the long run.
“You can be penny wise or pound foolish,” McCray said. “And I’d rather give up the penny - than pay all the pounds.”