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CMS Board Has Mixed Reactions On Handling Of School Visit

Charlotte Mecklenburg School board members are mixed in their reactions to how Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh dealt with complaints arising from a recent school visit by two board members. Richard McElrath and Joyce Waddell visited Thomasboro, one of the Project LIFT schools two weeks ago. Hattabaugh says he received complaints by teachers and administrators there stemming from the board members criticism of Project LIFT and a designation called "hard-to-staff schools." In a memo to the board last week Hattabaugh said they violated the board's policy which states the board will avoid involvement in management activities or giving direction to staff. McElrath and Waddell both say they didn't realize they were doing that. In a work session Friday, a few board members, including Mary McCray, said it was out of Hattabaugh's place to send that memo. She says he should have written the memo with the help of the board chairman and spoken with McElrath and Waddell separately. "I see it as staff taking on the role of chastising governance and that was the perception. And, therefore, I felt like it wasn't a joint effort and it could've been," said McCray. But board member Eric Davis says Hattabaugh was within his rights. "I think what he did by example was demonstrate, 'Yes, you can speak up in this organization to your bosses.' That was the power of what he did, besides defend his employees. He showed great courage and by doing so, sent a message through this whole organization," said Davis. The board has agreed to take a course that outlines governance issues, including how to interact with staff.