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Longtime CMS Administrator Scott McCully Returns To Take New Oversight Role

New Chief Compliance Officer Scott McCully addressed the CMS board Wednesday night.
New Chief Compliance Officer Scott McCully addressed the CMS board Wednesday night.

A year after the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board decided to create a new position to oversee its top administrators, the board has filled that post with a person who's well known in the CMS community: Scott McCully.

McCully, chief operating officer of Guilford County Schools, is the first chief compliance officer for CMS.

Last October, the board agreed it needed a new position: Someone who reports directly to the board; can make sure CMS complies with federal, state and local regulations; and can investigate complaints against the superintendent and other top staff if need be.

The board had forced out two superintendents in the previous five years. They never disclosed reasons, but reporters revealed problems with purchases and contracts initiated by Clayton Wilcox, who left in August of 2019.

For instance, CMS recently settled a lawsuit against a vendor who provided a panic-alarm system that district officials say never worked right. When questions arose after Wilcox's departure, the district disclosed that the $1.7 million purchase price had been covered by 27 purchase orders rather than a contract.

CMS Brings McCully Back

Wednesday night. the board hired its first chief compliance officer, McCully.

Scott McCully
Scott McCully

But McCully is hardly new to CMS. He was head of student assignment and planning for CMS from 2000 to 2017, and was known for keeping calm during student assignment controversies. He took the Guilford job 24 hours after the last CMS student assignment review ended.

Most of the board members knew McCully before they were elected, when they were CMS employees, parents or community activists. They sang his praises at Wednesday's meeting.

"I have had the chance to work with Scott McCully for 20 years," Rhonda Cheek said. "He is a stand-up guy, and many people in this community kind of view him as Mr. CMS because he was so active in this community in so many ways."

"I don't think I could have been an effective board member had I not had the opportunity for Scott McCully to be a guide," said Ruby Jones. "Right from the beginning he was there to give me guideposts and just make certain that I was effective."

McCully will make $170,000 a year in his new job. He becomes the third CMS employee who reports directly to the school board, along with the superintendent and general counsel. Board Chair Elyse Dashew says he was hired in a national search that drew more than 70 applications.

"Mr. McCully obviously rose to the top, I think because of his deep institutional knowledge of CMS (and) his deep, trusted relationships throughout the system. He's got an impeccable sense of integrity," Dashew said.

McCully told the board he looks forward to reconnecting with CMS staff and the community, noting that it's been 20 years since he and his family moved from Kansas to Charlotte.

"We're members of this community. We believe in the school system," he said. "Our three sons are graduates from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools."

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.