CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte Mecklenburg School (CMS) Board Chairperson Mary McCray is reflecting on her time while on the school board. She has been board chairperson since 2011.
McCray decided not to run for re-election. She has served two four-year terms. While McCray has been on the board, she has worked with five different superintendents. Two of the superintendents Dr. Heath Morrison and Dr. Clayton Wilcox resigned suddenly. McCray equates a school board working with a superintendent like a marriage.
“Is it worthwhile staying in a terrible marriage just because you got all these children,” CMS Board Chairperson Mary McCray said. “And they’re going to see the dysfunction between the husband and the wife - I say no. Walk away and start over.”
McCray touched on the letter she received that outlined alleged inappropriate behavior against former CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox. McCray said she made other board members aware and said she had a talk with Wilcox about it.
“A plan put in place that this language or this teasing or whatever people wanted to make of it it was going to cease,” McCray said. “We had to have a professionalism in the district that should be from top down.”
Months after that talk, McCray said other things surfaced about Wilcox. Soon after that he was suspended, then ultimately resigned. McCray says knowing what she knows now - she would have done things differently when it came to choosing a superintendent.
“I would have questioned more intensely,” McCray said. “And I would have been very hesitant on a couple of the choices.”
McCray says the criticism that the board received for not revealing why two superintendents suddenly resigned doesn’t bother her.
“I just fan the noise away,” McCray said. “Because when I stood there and I took my oath of office - I took that seriously.”
The board leader says she took a vow to keep personnel issues private.
McCray says even-though she is leaving the board - the work is still incomplete. Academic achievement between black and white students is still an issue. McCray believes things will get better because of training and people know the mission.
“Everybody has the foundation now,” McCray said. “And before for many years - everybody was sort of doing their own thing and we realize when you do your own thing some things get lost between the cracks.”
McCray says during her tenure the high points of the job are when other people recognize the good work the district is doing. She was recently recognized for her work by the Council for the Great Schools.
“We can be vilified right here in Charlotte,” McCray said. “But when we go outside of North Carolina - we are regaled across North Carolina.”
McCray is proud of the things the board has accomplished under her watch. The county passed a $922 million bond referendum, the board re-established an equity committee, and the board approved a new student assignment plan. McCray last full meeting as Board Chairperson is November 12th. She says she will continue to be engaged and believes the board will be in good hands.
“I think we have people who are very progressive minded,” McCray said. “And want to continue to move forward and not become a stagnant board or a board that is dysfunctional or a board that is ridiculed.”