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CMS paid $12,000 for outside lawyer to investigate former Superintendent Winston

The CMS board voted unanimously Tuesday to release part of his personnel file after voting 7-2 to fire him.
Ann Doss Helms
The CMS board voted April 19 to release part of Superintendent Earnest Winston's personnel file after voting 7-2 to fire him.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board paid $12,000 for an outside lawyer's report on former Superintendent Earnest Winston's performance, a recently released bill shows.

This spring, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board hired Asheville lawyer K. Dean Shatley to investigate concerns about Winston’s performance. Shatley’s report, released when the board fired Winston in April, documented mistakes and flawed decisions. But Shatley found no clear breaches of Winston’s contract that would have allowed the board to fire him without severance pay.

In response to a public record request from WFAE, CMS recently released the tab for Shatley’s work. His firm billed CMS $12,050.

The board voted to fire Winston for convenience and pay him almost $577,000 over the coming two years, as his contract requires. The board released parts of his personnel file, including Shatley’s report and Winston’s most recent evaluation, to explain that decision.

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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.