CMS doubles down on secrecy in superintendent search

Charlotte school leaders deny request for closed session minutes
Charlotte school leaders deny request for closed session minutes
Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 3:19 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education continued to rebuff efforts by WBTV to get information related to its search for a new superintendent on Thursday.

In an email, a lawyer for the board responded to two letters from an attorney for the station challenging the board’s continued efforts to conduct its search for a new superintendent in secret.

Last week, a lawyer for WBTV wrote to the board challenging its decision to conduct interviews with candidates for the district’s top job in closed session; questioning whether it complied with the North Carolina Open Meetings Law.

On Wednesday, the station’s lawyer wrote a second letter, pushing back on the district’s refusal to release redacted versions of minutes of the closed sessions in which the interviews took place. The new letter also pointed out the district’s stated plan to negotiate a contract with a new superintendent prior to announcing their selection publicly may run afoul of the Open Meetings Law.

But Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools continues its accelerated search for a new superintendent in secret.

On Thursday, a lawyer for CMS responded to the two letters from WBTV’s attorney by claiming the board was acting in the same way other school boards have conducted superintendent searches

“Please note that the Board is not alone in its application of the NC Open Meetings Law,” the board’s lawyer wrote. She further claimed a superintendent candidate’s job application is a personnel record and, therefore, not subject to public scrutiny.

School board members began conducting a first round of interviews last Friday in a process that continued over the week and into this week.

The timeline outlined by the board calls for a new superintendent’s contract to be approved by May 9, meaning the board will select the district’s top staffer in a matter of weeks.

Community leaders criticized the search process in a press conference called by the African American Faith Alliance for Educational Advancement on Monday.

“There is a degree to which the board needs to do its work, but I do think board members need to be open to being responsive to questions the community has about the process.” Dr. Jordan Boyd, the group’s co-chair said.

No elected member of the school board has spoken publicly in defense of its position to conduct the superintendent search in complete secret.