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CMS Board Approves Morrison's Resignation; Keeps Quiet On Details

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Lisa Worf
/
WFAE

Heath Morrison and CMS have officially parted ways after two and a half years. The board met for nearly two hours in closed session Thursday and approved a separation agreement. But the deal does not include severance pay.    

Board Chairwoman Mary McCray characterized Morrison’s departure as “a voluntary resignation.” 

That means Morrison will not receive any severance. But nothing else she said indicated that he left willingly. 

CMS would not provide the agreement right away but McCray said it includes a confidentiality clause for both parties. The board and Morrison also promise not to “disparage” one another, nor sue each other.   

McCray tried to explain why the board has been so tight-lipped this week, once news of Morrison’s impending resignation got out. 

“We decided to be silent during this process to honor it with the hopes that all parties would agree that it only hurts and confuses the district when this plays out in the public space,” said McCray.

Of course, it already is. The Charlotte Observer has reported CMS lawyers investigated complaints that Morrison belittled staff members and misled the board about the cost to place a new high school at UNC Charlotte. McCray alluded to that investigation, but didn’t elaborate.

“When the board was made aware of these allegations, we took immediate action and looked into them,” she said.    

“Honesty, integrity and open lines of communication are an integral part of an effective, working relationship between a board and its employees.” 

Six members of the board voted to approve the agreement and three voted against it. Those three were Tom Tate, Paul Bailey and Eric Davis. Board members immediately left after the vote and would not take any questions.

Later on, Davis explained his ‘no’ vote,

“I fundamentally disagree with the manner in which this situation was handled,” said Davis.     

He says the board never discussed with Morrison the accusations against him or even presented them to him. 

“I believe it was really important for the board to sit down with the employees involved in these instances, including Dr. Morrison. I’m confident had we done that we could’ve identified whatever corrective action was necessary to deal with these issues,” said Davis.

Messages to Morrison’s attorney were not returned. 

Ann Clark is now superintendent. McCray says the board has no plans to start a search for that position at this point. Clark was Morrison’s second-in-command. She’s been with the district more than thirty years and was a finalist for the job when the board hired Morrison instead.