Watchdog group critical of CMS' new hire to improve school lunches

Watchdog group critical of CMS' new hire to improve school lunches

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina watchdog group is speaking out against a recent executive hire within Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools.

Terry Stoops, with North Carolina's John Locke Foundation, is specifically critical of CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox.

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"This is not a good way to start his tenure," Stoops said, "Superintendent Wilcox is not a rookie and should absolutely know better."

Laura Francisco is the new chief of staff for Wilcox.

Her husband, Jody Francisco, was just given an $85,000 a year job with CMS aimed at improving the quality of school lunches.

But Channel 9 discovered there was not an open job search for the position and Wilcox admitted to Channel 9 on Thursday there was no job posting for this position.

"The lack of process here is really what's disconcerting, and what really should raise a red flag for taxpayers," according to Stoops.

CMS held a press conference Friday to introduce Jody Francisco.

Channel 9 investigative reporter Paul Boyd asked the new hire if nepotism played a role in his hiring.

"I would say this, ‘It's my understanding that the superintendent has the ability to determine what jobs are posted and what's not,’" Jody Francisco.

CMS officials said Friday that its policy that says the superintendent can hire at his "discretion" when "it is in the best interests of the school system."

"I happen to have a unique skill set that coincides with our new superintendent's vision and find myself lucky to be here and be a part of that," Jody Francisco said.

The John Locke Foundation believes the school board now needs to take additional steps to ensure full oversight and accountability.