Meet the CMS superintendent carousel
You might be familiar with the NFL coaching carousel. Let me introduce you to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent carousel.
In 1944, James Wilson became Mecklenburg County Schools first superintendent (That was before the county merged with Charlotte schools and created the combined system). Wilson served for 16 years, and he still remains the longest tenured superintendent.
Since 1962, on average, superintendents have held the position for roughly four years. But that’s shortened in the past decade: CMS has gone through five superintendents, and the last one to make it to the three-year mark was over a decade ago. Current interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh announced recently that he plans to resign in December, eight months into a 14-month contract.
Peter Gorman (July 2006-June 2011)
Kicking things off, with the longest tenure on this list, Gorman began in the summer of 2006. During his five years, one notable moment was an attempt (ultimately unsuccessful) to shift how teachers werepaid in the school system. Gorman resigned in 2011 for a job with News Corporation’s education division.
Hugh Hattabaugh (July 2011-June 2012 *1st Interim tenure*)
After Gorman’s departure, the CMS board chose an interim leader. The debate was between Ann Clark, who was the chief academic officer at the time, and Hattabaugh, who was the chief operating officer. The role was assigned to Hattabaugh for a year.
Heath Morrison (July 2012-November 2014)
Morrison was selected by the board in the summer of 2012. After three years of service, CMS announced he was leaving to take care of his mother. However, Morrison and the board soon acknowledged that he had been asked to leave.
Ann Clark (November-December 2014 acting superintendent, superintendent from January 2015 - June 2017)
Sometimes the long game works. It did for Ann Clark, who had been in the conversation to become interim superintendent in 2011. Clark retired in 2017, without the district offering her a long-term contract.
Clayton Wilcox (July 2017 - August 2019)
After Clark’s tenure, the board announced in the summer of 2017 that Clayton Wilcox would be the next superintendent. In the summer of 2019, after being accused of making offensive remarks to staff members, resigned in August 2019. The board and Wilcox never disclosed the official reason.
Earnest Winston (August 2019 - April 2022)
Winston was named the next superintendent, and was soon granted a long-term contract. However, his tenure didn’t last long. In April of 2022 he wasfired after a 7-2 vote by the CMS board.
Hugh Hattabaugh (April 2022 - December 2022 *2nd interim tenure*)
After Winston’s departure, Hattabaugh came back from retirement and gained the title of interim superintendent for the second time in 11 years.
Crystal Hill (December 2022 - present *1st interim tenure*)
Hill was the Chief of Staff at CMS and was elected as the interim superintendent in December. She has become the first woman of color to lead CMS at any basis. She was elected unanimously by the CMS board.
While CMS has a new interim leader in place, the board will continue to look for a permeant leader before the 2023 school year.