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CMS fires Superintendent Earnest Winston

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education voted 7-2 on Tuesday to end the employment of Earnest Winston, effective immediately.

James Brierton (WCNC), Chloe Leshner (WCNC), Nate Morabito (WCNC), Shamarria Morrison, Jesse Pierre, Meilin Tompkins, Hunter Sáenz (WCNC)

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Published: 2:58 PM EDT April 18, 2022
Updated: 11:56 PM EDT April 20, 2022

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education voted Tuesday to terminate the employment contract of Superintendent Earnest Winston, effective immediately.

Since the school district decided to terminate Winston "for convenience," he will be paid a severance of about $24,000 per month for the next two years, as required by his contract. That total amount of about $576,000 is the equivalent of two years of full pay for the outgoing superintendent.

"Ernest Winston cares deeply for CMS for our students, our employees, and our community, and he has given his all in his 18 years in this district, especially these last three years," CMS Board of Education Chairperson Elyse Dashew said during the emergency meeting Tuesday. "However, we believe that a different leader is needed to shore up this district and place our students on track to achieve high goals in literacy, math, and career and college readiness. Student outcomes are what matter most.

Board members voted 7-2 to terminate Winston's employment agreement. District 3's Dr. Ruby Jones and vice-chairperson Thelma Byers-Bailey voted against the motion.

"Earnest gave us his best," Byers-Bailey said.

Jones accused Dashew of orchestrating and "ramrodding" this.

Winston was named superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools on Aug. 2, 2019, following the suspension and resignation of Clayton Wilcox that same year.

Winston's current employment contract, which was extended in February 2021, was set to continue until June 2025.

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

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