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CMS board releases new document about former superintendent Winston after tense meeting

New document confirms previous reporting from WBTV detailing months of negotiations between school board & Winston
WBTV has previously detailed the months-long back and forth between the school board and Winston that started last November
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 4:49 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education held an emergency meeting on Monday afternoon to authorize the release of a new letter from the personnel file of former CMS superintendent Earnest Winston.

The move came in response to a confidential letter that board member Dr. Ruby Jones leaked to WFAE.

In the letter provided to WFAE, an attorney for Winston accused the board of acting improperly and interfering with Winston’s ability to perform his job prior to his termination last month.

WBTV has previously detailed the months-long back and forth between the school board and Winston that started last November and culminated in his firing last month.

During Monday’s emergency meeting, board members voted to release the letter from CMS General Counsel Andre Mayes responded to the allegations from Winston’s attorney.

Document: Read the full letter

The board voted 8-1 to release the new document. Before taking the vote, several board members expressed their frustration that they were still dwelling on Winston’s firing.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re here today to do this,” board member Rhonda Cheek said. “These documents were confidential personnel records but one of our board members has chosen to release this because she wanted a wider message.”

In the letter, it confirmed WBTV’s reporting that Winston had been under fire for a few months regarding his job performance.

On April 19, the board voted 7-2 to fire Winston.

Previous: Read WBTV’s exclusive reporting detailing the months-long negotiations leading to Winston’s firing

In the letter, his attorney wrote that if the board was ready for Winston to leave, they needed to exercise the termination clause in this contract, which would give him two years’ salary, which ultimately happened.

“I think it is important that we accept this motion and have an opportunity to see this part of what we felt we needed to do as oversight and management of the school board,” board member Lenora Shipp said.

The letter released Monday comes after the board previously voted to release other documents from Winston’s personnel file the day he was fired.

The previous records release details three areas in which an outside investigator found Winston likely mishandled situations, including when his top aide interfered in an investigation into the handling of reported sexual assaults at Hawthorne Academy High School.

In final remarks before the vote to release the new letter on Monday, board chairwoman Elyse Dashew said Monday’s action was necessary but frustrating.

“This going back and forth with personnel files serves absolutely nobody. If it wasn’t for the board having to correct the record, we wouldn’t have to be here today. So I am disappointed but here we are,” Dashew said.

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