CMS Superintendent Heath Morrison says he’s resigning to spend more time with his family and take care of his mother. The school board will meet Thursday to vote on the details of the separation agreement.
The reports began circulating yesterday morning that Morrison may be on his way out. The school board finally confirmed them in the evening. That was after reporters had camped out at CMS headquarters through the afternoon and after some awkward press briefings in which CMS staff had no news to report.
In a statement board chairwoman Mary McCray said the board appreciated Morrison’s contributions to CMS. She did not speak to reporters, and CMS spokeswoman Kathryn Block couldn’t add much.
“All I can share with you is what is shared in Dr. Morrison’s letter, which you now have a copy of,” said Block. “He puts his own voice to his personal reasons for wanting to step down.”
And this is what the letter says:
Serving as superintendent requires a singular and unwavering focus. Recent events have challenged that focus and I must now rededicate myself to my family, most especially my mother.
It goes on to say:
I can’t give my job the full attention it needs while making sure I address her needs at this critical time.
When your values are in conflict with your obligations, these decisions are still wrenching.
Morrison said he had been thinking a lot about this driving back and forth to his mother’s home in Williamsburg, Virginia.
A reporter asked Block about the timing of Morrison’s resignation.
“This is a surprise to Kathryn Block, the chief communications officer,” said Block. “So I don’t believe this is something that’s been longstanding. You can ask any additional questions in that regard to our board of education and Dr. Morrison when he’s available.”
Morrison was out of the office yesterday. School board members have said little. CMS school board member Eric Davis called it “a sad day for CMS,” but said further comment needs to come from the board chairwoman Mary McCray.
The board plans to meet Thursday to discuss the details of the resignation agreement, like whether he’ll receive severance pay. That will take place in closed session.
Morrison was also not there Friday for what was supposed to be a work session for the board. Instead, it turned into an hours-long closed session meeting. At least publicly the CMS board has praised Morrison’s work and several community leaders have been supportive of his efforts.
Morrison came to CMS in 2012 from the public school system that includes Reno, Nevada. That year he won National Superintendent of the Year from the American Association of School Administrators. He has three more years left on his CMS contract and makes a salary of $288,000, not including bonuses.
CMS Deputy Superintendent Ann Clark will serve as interim superintendent. She was a finalist for the job that ultimately went to Morrison.