'I love this district': Acting CMS leader promises stability heading into school year

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board held a regular meeting Tuesday night for the first time since the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox was announced last week.

Earnest Winston took the superintendent seat, delivering his first report as acting CMS leader.

"I want to begin by thanking this board and the community for the opportunity," Winston said.

With five weeks until school starts, Winston pledged stability, focus, and for work to continue uninterrupted.

"You have my word that I will lead with integrity, putting the needs of children first, and I expect nothing less than exceptional leadership from every employee and staff," he said.

Winston said it's been a relatively smooth transition.

“I am accustomed to serving as part of our senior leadership team, and I’m excited about the opportunity. I've embraced it,” he said.

When asked if he was interested in the superintendent position permanently, he said he would be ready for the job.

"I've maintained all along I love this district with all my heart," Winston said. "I would do anything for this district and I stand ready to serve at the pleasure of the board."

Winston was CMS’ chief engagement officer and ombudsman keeping in tune with concerns and issues of CMS families and employees.

He said the district officials are working around the clock to make sure this year will be the best start for the district ever.

“Business continues uninterrupted,” Winston said. “We can't wait for kids to come back on August 26.”

Parents, however, are still waiting to learn who will occupy this seat permanently.

"He is a wonderful individual,” parent Collette Forrest said. “I would like, even for his own protection, for us to do a national search and prior to these senior school board members leaving."

Last week, the board unanimously approved a separation agreement with Wilcox. They first suspended him for violating state law and board policies.

He will resign in less than two weeks.

School Safety 

A student safety task force made a presentation at Tuesday night's meeting.

They spent last school year coming up with recommendations for how CMS can best protect students while at school.

They recommended more training for volunteers before allowing them to be alone with students, enhanced screening process for employees and helping them identify red-flag situations.

They also want to let parents know when events are happening at schools that aren't being managed directly by the district.

CMS increased safety checks at all schools for the last few months. Part of that includes random security screenings.

Several weapons have been confiscated at schools during those checks and students have been disciplined.

All of this follows the deadly shooting inside Butler High School last fall.

Channel 9 reported Bobby McKeithen was killed while at school after police said he was shot by classmate Jatwan Cuffie.

They said the shooting happened after a fight.

After the Butler shooting, Wilcox implemented some of those new safety measures.