CMS attorney reflects on time with district as he departs for new job

CMS Counsel George Battle leaving district for job at UNC

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - George Battle III is leaving Charlotte Mecklenburg School (CMS) to take a job as Vice Chancellor at UNC Chapel Hill. He has been the longest serving attorney in CMS, as he had been working for the district for nearly 10 years.

He said now was the time to leave, and reflected on what he will miss about his job as CMS attorney.

“I think I am going to miss just the uniqueness of this community,” Battle said. “I am going to miss working for a board of committed individuals. I am going to miss having that feeling of doing things to make kids’ lives a little bit better.”

Battle has been through six CMS superintendents while serving the board. He believes the second largest school district in the state is doing something right despite the fact of the superintendent shuffle.

“You’re not recognized nationally as one of the best districts in the country if you don’t have great leadership," Battle said. "Certainly the district is not perfect, certainly there have been things that we could have done better I think.”

The attorney believes CMS should have done a better job communicating the successes the district has been recognized for. Battle claims oftentimes the district has been misunderstood.

Battle was at the center of former CMS Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison’s sudden resignation. Battle handled the investigation involving allegations against Morrison. Battle wouldn’t comment on that personnel matter but did say this about that process.

“Anything that I have done here, whether it is making decisions about the direction of a lawsuit, whether it is advising the board on a personnel matter or advising a principal on a custody manner - it’s been done in the spirit of being a lawyer - of being the advisor and trying to put the decision makers in the best position possible,” Battle said.

Recently, the school board approved the creation of the Office of Compliance and Transparency. That office would be another set of eyes for contracts to ensure the district is following law and policy. It would also investigate serious allegations against the superintendent or other senior officials. Battle says that office shouldn’t be looked at as an Inspector General but more of providing assistance to the district.

“A position that is helping the superintendent,” Battle said. “That’s helping the board - that is helping the almost 20,000 employees of CMS.”

Battle reflects on his time in office. He says he is proud of the accomplishments the legal office has done while under his watch.

“We’ve been able to avoid millions of dollars, and legal cost by the way that we’ve organized the department - by the way we’ve gone about our business,” Battle said.

As the attorney leaves, he wished the district could eliminate the achievement gap between black and white students. He believes one day that will happen.

“I’m very optimistic as to the future of this school district,” Battle said. “But I think it’s incumbent upon us to realize that we’re not going to fix all that’s wrong with public education just looking inside the four walls of the school house - It’s going to take a whole community - the push on affordable housing, the push on economic mobility - all those things are important for us to have the outcomes in the school district not only that what we want, but what our children deserve.”

Battle starts his new position on Jan. 6.

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