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CMS Changes Leadership For Human Resources, Communications

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system is reorganizing its leadership, starting with the people in charge of human resources and communications. That’s after audits released Tuesday showed those departments weren’t doing a good enough job.

Superintendent Heath Morrison called for the audits shortly after he took over in July. The results are in, and the heads of human resources and communications are out.

Here’s CMS chief of staff Earnest Winston at Tuesday night’s school board meeting:

"No, we’re not content. We’re not satisfied with where we are now. We’re going to get better, and this work is going to help us do that," Winston said.

The audit of the human resources department showed it needs to streamline its hiring process and simply better serve schools. Chief Daniel Habrat is stepping down, and Kelly Gwaltney is taking over. She’s been a teacher, principal and zone superintendent.

Morrison said that makes her the right person to fix the department.

"Her knowledge of what schools need, what principals need, how to select great teachers, support staff - I’m really excited about what her leadership is going to bring," Morrison said.

And the audit of the communications department found it wasn’t doing a good enough job, well, communicating – internally with teachers and employees or externally with the news media.  

Some teachers, staff and community supporters said the department suffers from inadequate leadership under director LaTarzja Henry.

Henry is being forced to leave that job, but she’s not leaving CMS. Morrison is creating a new job for her as assistant superintendent for community partnerships and family engagement.  

"The things that were most robust under her leadership were outreach to the community, partnerships with businesses, parents," Morrison said, "so it’s an opportunity to extend her leadership but also take our communications department in a different strategic direction."

The person leading the department in that new direction will be Kathryn Block. She worked in marketing for Kraft Foods and Campbell Soup before joining CMS two years ago.

Block said she’ll use her business experience in her new job.

"I view CMS as a brand, much like a Kraft Cheese is a brand," Block said. "The stakes here are much higher because we’re talking about our ability to educate our students, to engage a lot of our community partners in order to secure additional funding. A lot of that is about how well the CMS brand plays out in the community."

And Block said with any good brand, you can’t simply polish over the rough spots. You strengthen it by making changes.