CMS board to vote Tuesday on terminating superintendent’s contract

WBTV Investigates: Board, Winston have been negotiating for months.
CMS announced an emergency meeting that will be held Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. “for matters related to Superintendent Contracts and Attendant Personnel Items.”
Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 11:18 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education will vote Tuesday to terminate the contract of Superintendent Earnest Winston.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced an emergency meeting on Monday that will be held Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. “for matters related to Superintendent Contracts and Attendant Personnel Items.”

Tuesday’s expected vote is the culmination of months of displeasure that’s created tension between the school board’s leadership and Winston, multiple sources tell WBTV.

Tension between board members and Winston started late last fall during his annual performance review and has increased since then, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions, all of whom spoke with WBTV on the condition they not be named in order to discuss sensitive personnel information.

The CMS Board of Education will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday.

WBTV first reported that Winston was under fire in November, as the board held multiple closed session meetings to complete the embattled superintendent’s performance review.

The tensions escalated in December, when board leaders gave Winston a list of action items he was expected to complete in order to stay in his job.

Previous: CMS board calls special closed session to discuss superintendent’s performance

Among the items were improving his handling of Title IX issues by working with the school system’s general counsel; reassign his then-chief of staff LaTarzja Henry; begin holding regular meetings with the two other CMS employees who report directly to the school board – general counsel Andre Mayes and chief compliance officer Scott McCully—to coordinate operations; present a comprehensive plan for academic improvement to the board by the end of the first semester; and develop a safety improvement plan that could be implemented by the end of the first semester.

WBTV has previously reported that Henry was removed from her job as chief of staff. More recently, Winston announced a new role for her within CMS. It is not clear which, if any, of the remaining expectations were met.

Winston was first told in early February that board members wanted him off the job.

That conversation triggered months of back-and-forth negotiations.

Winston’s contract with CMS allows the board to either fire him for cause or to terminate his contract for convenience. Exercising the latter option, for convenience, requires the board to pay him two years of salary at his annual rate of $288,400.

Related: CMS superintendent: ‘No students have been suspended for reporting sexual assault.’ Documents show otherwise.

Tuesday’s vote is expected to be to terminate Winston for convenience, according to the sources who spoke with WBTV.

Multiple CMS sources familiar with the negotiations tell WBTV that the board offered Winston more than $300,000 to resign in lieu of being fired but that offer has been rebuffed multiple times.

After early attempts to reach a settlement with Winston were unsuccessful, the board hired outside attorneys to investigate Winston’s job performance.

That investigation was presented to board members in the form of a confidential written report in early April, multiple people familiar with the report told WBTV.

Neither Winston, board members nor a CMS spokesperson have issued comments outside of the meeting notice for Tuesday’s meeting.

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