‘We need stability’: CMS parents weigh in on surprise resignation from interim superintendent

Hattabaugh is leaving at the end of December.
Parents say they are not surprised because several superintendents have left.
Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 6:56 PM EST

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools parents are pleading for consistent leadership after the news of an upcoming departure.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools interim superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh will leave his post at the end of the year.

Hattabaugh made his announcement at Wednesday’s school board meeting, following a lengthy closed session meeting.

In making the announcement, Hattabaugh said he was leaving to go back to Florida and care for his elderly father.

“After much discussion, I had earlier made a decision that I might resign, I held off, but at this juncture, I will be leaving the district on December 31,” he said.

Hattabaugh was brought on in April after CMS fired former Superintendent Earnest Winston.

Hattabaugh’s contract was set to expire in June, the same timeframe that the Board was hoping to hire a permanent superintendent to lead the district.

“When I saw it, I was like what, I thought he was going to be there until the end of this school year,” parent Nakisa Glover questioned after learning of Hattabaugh’s resignation on Twitter.

Wednesday night’s announcement came after Hattabaugh says a staff member leaked his resignation before the district could inform the five newly elected Board members.

“Apparently, somebody has already released that I was contemplating this,” he said.

Previous coverage: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent announces early departure

Board members held a lengthy closed session meeting Wednesday before Hattabaugh’s announcement.

“I share [parent’s] frustration because apparently, an outgoing school board member has decided to prematurely leak an employee’s personnel information. That was indeed his story to tell, one that we were planning to tell next week after we had informed the newly elected Board members and did it properly,” said At-Large Board member Jennifer De La Jara.

Colette Forrest’s son is a sophomore at Myers Park High School. She says she was disheartened to hear how Hattabaugh’s resignation was shared before he could make a formal announcement.

“It’s unfortunate that it was leaked to the press before he was unable to state to the press, the community, the Board members - present and incoming, that he was leaving to take care of his father,” Forrest said.

De La Jara shared her concerns about how this incident could affect their search for a superintendent in the coming months.

“Make no mistake it hurts our chances to find a qualified permanent superintendent because we know potential superintendent candidates are watching what’s going on in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and when we have adults who feel the need to put centering themselves over the needs of our 142,000 students it hurts our district,” she said.

CMS is collecting feedback from parents, students, school employees, and community members about qualities they want to see in the next superintendent.

CMS families and community members are encouraged to take the Survey before it closes on November 18. You can find the survey online.

CMS will also host a Spanish-language virtual Listening Session on Tuesday, November 15. Interested community members can register to attend, and take the survey in Spanish.

This information will be presented to the Board of Education at its December 13 meeting. From there, the Board will start its nationwide search in January, with the goal of hiring the next superintendent in the summer of 2023.

“We want to hear from you because the community’s voice absolutely matters,” De La Jara said.

Forrest has seen at least four superintendents come and go since her son started kindergarten. She’s hoping the district hires someone who will stay long-term.

“I want to see stability. I want to see a superintendent that brings a sense of calm and stability,” she said.

Glover, who graduated from Harding University High School in 2000, says she has also seen her fair share of superintendents and wants her son and his classmates to have more consistent leadership.

“I first and foremost want to see someone that has a demonstrated commitment to Charlotte and has really made that effort to say they’re here and committed to building the foundation that CMS needs,’ Glover said.

CMS is swearing in five new school board members at its monthly meeting on December 13.