Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Superintendent Earnest Winston 625eee3b66b2f

Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) school board fires superintendent

April 19, 2022
Earnest Winston has been ousted in a 7-2 vote, two years before his contract was set to end.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) school board has fired superintendent Earnest Winston two years before his contract was set to end. 

Winston, 47, will be paid $576,800 for the two remaining years of his contract, reports The Charlotte Observer

He was appointed to the district's top job in August 2019. The vote to fire him was 7-2.

"We believe a different leader is needed to shore up this district," said board chairperson Elyse Dashew. "Student outcomes are what matter most. We are confident this is the right decision at the right time.”

During Winston's tenure, the pandemic has exacerbated significant achievement gaps among the district's more than 140,000 students, and schools have seen record increases in violence and weapons on campuses as well as questions about ways the district dealt with sexual assault and harassment claims among students.

Board member Ruby Jones, who voted against the firing, said the action was unwarranted.

"This has not been respectful of this superintendent,” Jones said. “No cause could be established. Change in leadership sets us back.”

The district's former chief operating officer, Hugh Hattabaugh, will serve as interim superintendent. Hattabaugh previously served as district interim superintendent in 2011. 

Winston began his career with the district in 2004 as a teacher before moving into the central office, where he was promoted to chief of staff in 2012 and district ombudsman in 2017. He became superintendent in August 2019 following the suspension and resignation of Clayton Wilcox.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg had to receive approval from the North Carolina State Board of Education to name Winston as superintendent because he lacked advanced education degrees. He was a reporter for The Charlotte Observer before becoming a teacher in 2004.

 In February 2021, the board extended Winston's contract to 2025. It gave him a 3% raise, taking his salary from $280,000 to $288,400. served from 2002 to 2005. In February 2021, the board extended his contract to 2025. It gave him a 3% raise, taking his salary from $280,000 to $288,400.

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