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CMS Board Chooses 39 From Long List of Volunteers For Equity Committee

The CMS board prepares to vote on members of its equity committee Tuesday.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board named 39 people to a new equity advisory committee Tuesday in a unanimous vote with no debate.

Over the past two years, board members have argued vigorously over how to define and measure equity — and over how and whether to create a community advisory board. They spent weeks talking behind the scenes about how to choose up to 40 members from 284 people who volunteered to serve.

The first round of appointments came from individual board members. They didn't provide descriptions of their appointees, but here's the roster:

  • Board chair Mary McCray named Derrik Anderson and Devonya Govan-Hunt.
  • Vice chair Elyse Dashew named Shericka Kemp and Arun Nair.
  • Member Ericka Ellis-Stewart named Victor Armstrong and Jason Terrell.
  • Member Rhonda Cheek named Kimberly Muhich and Jason Colvin.
  • Member Thelma Byers-Bailey named Gilbert Gilchrist and Lucille Frierson.
  • Member Ruby Jones named Lionel Means and Dee Rankin.
  • Member Carol Sawyer named Justin Perry and Zhenia Martinez.
  • Member Margaret Marshall named  John Murchison and Kobi Brinson.
  • Member Sean Strain named Boe Clark and Sonia Gwyn.
  • Student advisor Kendall Sanders named Jayden Davis and Stella Smolowitz.

CMS board members Rhonda Cheek (left) and Ruby Jones discuss the names on the equity committee ballot.

After that, members went through a list of people who had applied to serve or been nominated by groups. After two rounds of voting, 19 people had received at least five votes.

They are: Margueritta Brown from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators, Bettie Butler, Connie Cabbs from the Mecklenburg PTA Council, Sharika Comfort, Christopher Corcoran, Christina Corpening, Kimberlee Cox-Benjamin, Saronda Easter, Frank Garcia from Coalicion Latina de Fe y Salud, Pamela Grundy from Charlotte East, Leslie Gutierrez, Ian Joyce, Chance Lewis from the UNCC Urban Education Collaborative, LeDayne Polaski from the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice, Richard Purcell, Adam Rhew, former school board member Amelia Stinson-Wesley, David Taylor from the Vance High PTSA and Yolanda Trotman.

Board Chair Mary McCray said the committee's role will include reviewing data, acting as thought partners and community advocates, serving as a sounding board for CMS staff and reporting to the school board. The board plans to bring in a professional facilitator to work with the committee.

Dozens of the applicants were CMS employees. That led Superintendent Earnest Winston to announce plans to form an employee equity task force. 

"Our employees recognize the importance of making sure that every student can and does learn, and our educators who work with our students every day are eager to contribute to the district’s work on equity," Winston said.

Winston said the employee task force, which will be led by Chief Equity Officer Frank Barnes, "will offer input to the board's equity committee to inform and help its work."

Winston said he'll reopen selection for the employee group.