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CMS board revises its code of ethics to tackle confidentiality and conflicts

The CMS board voted unanimously Tuesday to release part of his personnel file after voting 7-2 to fire him.
Ann Doss Helms
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board at a recent meeting.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board voted 8-0 to approve a new code of ethics for board members Tuesday.

The new 17-point policy incorporates most of the existing ethics policy. New items include agreement to:

  • Model civility by engaging in respectful dialogue.
  • Respect confidential information and avoid disclosing closed-session discussions.
  • Avoid letting personal relationships influence decisions.
  • Direct complaints to proper channels rather than doing individual investigations.
  • Avoid conflicts of interest and using a board position for personal or partisan gain.

The board is updating a number of its policies. Member Carol Sawyer, who chairs the policy committee, said some of the new language was suggested by the North Carolina School Boards Association.
The ethics code approval comes at a time of increased hostility at school board meetings across the country, including CMS.

It also comes shortly after an April vote to fire Superintendent Earnest Winston. Several news outlets aired advance information about the firing, attributed to unnamed sources. Board member Ruby Jones made on-the-record comments to WFAE about closed-door discussions before the firing. Afterward she provided WFAE a letter from Winston’s lawyer that was considered a confidential part of his personnel file, prompting the board to call a special meeting to address it.

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.