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CMS will name an interim superintendent in less than 30 days

The news of current interim Hugh Hattabaugh’s departure has put more pressure on the permanent superintendent search.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education will have a special meeting to approve the contract terms for a new interim superintendent after the abrupt departure of current interim superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh

CMS officials confirmed the meeting to approve the contract will happen sometime between Dec. 14-31. It will happen after five new board members are sworn in and before Hattabaugh's final day on the job. He announced his departure in November. 

Hattabaugh was originally contracted to stay with CMS until a permanent superintendent was hired, but told the board he had to leave to take care of his elderly father. 

While CMS tries to quickly fill the interim spot Hattabaugh leaves behind, they’re also focused on the next permanent superintendent

"We've heard a lot of the same requests over and over again," Lisa Cline, who will represent District 5, said. "And I think that's important. In 30 years, a lot of the same requests are still there." 

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Cline is one of five new board members after a major shakeup during the November elections. 

"I think the community has spoken and I want to see that this new board hears the community and acts upon what the community is looking for," Cornelius Atkinson, the Heights Ministries Senior Pastor and member of the African American Faith Alliance for Educational Advancement, said. 

The Charlotte faith-based organization has mainly been critical of CMS due to its achievement gap between white students and Black and Hispanic students. In addition, it openly lobbied for new leadership changes during the tenure of previous superintendent Earnest Winston.

A current CMS board member has previously told WCNC the group's chairman, Dennis Williams, tried to lobby at least one board member to appoint him as superintendent after Winston's firing. Williams served as acting superintendent for a few months in the 1990s. 

WCNC Charlotte didn't ask Atkinson about Williams but did ask about the historical relevance of African-American churches in school politics. 

"I think the Black church and the church itself, it should be a strong voice that encourages the civic leaders to live up to their responsibility as a civic leader to make sure that the community is better for everyone," Atkinson said.

In a public input campaign by CMS, the most requested qualification of a new superintendent is closing the achievement and opportunity gaps. 

"We need a superintendent that's going to have the skills and the ability to help close that gap," Atkinson said. "A superintendent also that is very skilled that connecting the community, with the school system, so that the community plays a part in success, as well as a part of CMS system." 

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The news of Hattabaugh’s departure has put more pressure on the superintendent search. 

Cline said the feedback she's received from stakeholders is clear. 

"They want some stability and I think that's what we're hearing a lot of," Cline said. "We want a stable environment for children."

With five new board members, CMS will have a new opportunity to shape the direction of one of the most watched districts in North Carolina. 

"We work for our constituents, and we have to represent them the best," Cline said. "So each of us and our respective districts would hope to hear from our people that we represent."

CMS entered into a contract with Hattabaugh in April 2022 that was supposed to last no longer than June 30, 2023. 

The terms of his contract paid him a total amount of $265,000 per year. It's paid in equal monthly installments of approximately $22,083.33 for each month Hattabaugh works for the board.

Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorrison@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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