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Charlotte Area News
Our roundup of the week's top stories in the Charlotte area and across North Carolina. Sign up here to get it sent straight to your inbox.

Hannah-Jones Leaves UNC Behind, Mecklenburg Health Director To Retire, County-CMS Budget Conflict Over

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Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo
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Flickr
Journalist Nikole-Hannah Jones is seen speaking in 2018.

This past week, we saw the end of a North Carolina saga that captured national attention. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones decided not to teach at UNC Chapel Hill after a public battle over tenure. Instead, Hannah-Jones, creator of The New York Times Magazine's "1619 Project," will join the faculty at Howard University, a historically Black university, in Washington, D.C.

The news came after UNC's Board of Trustees voted 9-4 to give Hannah-Jones tenure for a teaching role at the university's journalism school — but that itself was a reversal. The famous journalist had initially been offered only a non-tenured job, sparking weeks of outcry and debate over political influence.

"To be treated so shabbily by my alma mater, by a university that has given me so much and which I only sought to give back to, has been deeply painful," Hannah-Jones said.

Joe Killian, of the NC Policy Watch, interviewed Hannah-Jones and Walter Hussman Jr., the major donor who emailed his concerns about Hannah-Jones to UNC leaders and whose name adorns the journalism school at which she would have taught. Killian joined WFAE's "All Things Considered" host, Gwendolyn Glenn, for a deeper dive into the story.

Here are some of the other major stories WFAE's reporters covered this week. 👇

  • Another local saga reached a conclusion when Mecklenburg County commissioners approved a settlement with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools over an earlier decision to temporarily withhold $56 million from the district. The county initially wanted to keep the money on hold until CMS could provide a plan on improving student performance. Now the county is giving CMS the $56 million — plus another $11 million.
  • A police officer in Rock Hill, South Carolina, was fired and charged with assault and battery for his role in a violent June 23 arrest that was caught on video. Charges of hindering police were dropped against Travis Price, who showed up that day as his brother was being arrested. York County Solicitor Kevin Brackett said now-former officer Jonathan Moreno broke the law by "laying hands on (Travis Price) without legal cause."
  • Mecklenburg County's health director is moving on. Gibbie Harris, who became the public face of the Charlotte area's response to the coronavirus pandemic, says she'll retire at the end of the year. Under her leadership, Mecklenburg County issued North Carolina's first stay-at-home order of the pandemic — days before the state followed suit. Deputy Public Health Director Raynard Washington will take the reins in January.
  • Home-schooling has been on the rise in North Carolina during the pandemic — by a lot. New tallies show nearly 180,000 students in the state were home-schooled last school year — a 20% increase from the year before. More than 2,000 of those students were in Mecklenburg County.
  • North Carolina has new standards on teaching history, social studies and civics in public schools. The state Board of Education narrowly approved the new guidelines this week, and they include details on how to incorporate new perspectives on racism and multiculturalism.
  • Speaking of education, it’s already time to start thinking about the new school year. Health officials in North Carolina are trying to streamline COVID safety rules before students and teachers head back to classrooms. One big takeaway: Face masks are likely to stick around since not all children can be vaccinated yet.
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Mecklenburg County
Mecklenburg County Commission Chair George Dunlap had wanted more transparency from CMS.

ICYMI: More Local News

NC Officials Blame Delta Variant For Increasing COVID Trends

North Carolina’s COVID-19 numbers have started to inch back up, state health officials said this week. They cite the rapid spread of the delta variant, particularly in counties with low vaccination rates, as the reason for the increase.

Charlotte Showcase At BLKMRKTCLT Highlights Black Women Artists

BLKMRKTCLT's "Nu Growth" exhibition will highlight the works of six Charlotte-area Black women artists with pop-up showcases at its Camp North End gallery over the next month.

Colonial Deal With Regulator Requires Inspection, Repairs On Full Pipeline

Colonial Pipeline has reached a settlement with federal pipeline regulators over how it will respond to a massive gasoline spill last August in Huntersville and prevent future leaks.

New NC Law On Biogas Facilities Prompts Environmental Concerns

A new law will make it easier for hog farms in North Carolina to get permission to turn hog waste into biogas. On its face that sounds like a solution to two problems: promoting renewable energy and eliminating hog waste. But it may not be that simple.

NC Ranks Last In U.S. For Legal Representation In Immigration Cases

North Carolina ranks last in the U.S. for the likelihood of having legal representation in immigration cases, according to a report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

COMMENTARY

A middle-schooler from Union County is one of America’s best spellers, and he made it to the top 11 in this year’s National Spelling Bee. WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson, in his On My Mind commentary, remembers an iconic moment from a spelling bee he covered – and the lessons learned.

BEST OF CHARLOTTE TALKS

We’re hearing a lot about critical race theory. But can you define it? How would it change what is taught in the classroom? There are academics who are divided over the precise definition, with some saying it’s necessary in order to understand how racism has shaped the country. Other call teaching it racist.

STILL HERE

In the latest Still Here, WFAE’s series on resiliency amid the coronavirus pandemic, reporter Sarah Delia talks with Charlotte baker Kacie Smagacz of Move That Dough about mixing moments of grief and loss with the sweet ones during the pandemic.

SOUTHBOUND

On the latest episode of SouthBound, we hear from Georgia wildlife biologist Clay George, part of a team that has helped bring the North Atlantic right whale back from the brink of extinction. Garden & Gun magazine named George one of its "Southern Heroes” for the work he’s done as part of a team to keep the North Atlantic right whale from going extinct.