Ann Doss Helms

Education Reporter

Ann Doss Helms covers education for WFAE. She was a reporter for The Charlotte Observer for 32 years, including 16 years on the education beat. She has repeatedly won first place in education reporting from the North Carolina Press Association and won the 2015 Associated Press Senator Sam Open Government Award for reporting on charter school salaries.

She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a master's in liberal arts from Winthrop University.

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Eastover Elementary School

This week Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools faced troubling allegations about its past, even as leaders try to focus on school safety for the coming year. A lawsuit says CMS overlooked reports of child abuse against a private after-school operator in 2013. That man is now behind bars after being charged with taking indecent liberties with a 6-year-old student last year.

Tracy Russ
WBTV live stream

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ chief communications officer Tracy Russ announced Thursday that he’s stepping down immediately.

Russ was hired by Clayton Wilcox, who resigned under pressure from the school board early this month. His departure could be the start of a staff shakeup under new Superintendent Earnest Winston.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center
Nick de la Canal / WFAE

Hate mail and racist remarks have long been a reality for people in public life – especially for African Americans. But instead of quietly commiserating with colleagues, a few Charlotte officials are calling out those messages in public meetings.


Along with “The dog ate my homework,” teachers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools may hear a new excuse from students this year: “My parents didn’t hear the bus coming.”


South Charlotte’s social media lit up this weekend with reports that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has chosen a site for a new southern high school. But the school board member who represents that area says it’s not a done deal.

Wikimedia Commons

A rebellion against North Carolina’s school calendar law has gotten the attention of state lawmakers. About a dozen districts have started earlier than the law allows. One key legislator says the state can’t keep looking the other way, but it’s unclear whether officials will ease up or crack down. 


A new classroom wing that will convert Davidson Elementary School into Davidson K-8 School will be ready to take sixth-graders Aug. 26, officials say.


Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board members talked about stability when they gave Earnest Winston a three-year contract as superintendent earlier this month. But it turns out fine print in that contract means he doesn’t have much job security. 


Normally there’s nothing controversial about kids going back to school in August. But in a handful of North Carolina districts near Charlotte, local leaders are defying state law – or at least stretching it – to roll their buses early. 

From left: J.T. Henderson, Alvamir Jzar, Amare Harris and Christopher Bacon Jackson perform Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, during the ULI Hip-Hop Architecture Camp at Johnson C. Smith University.
Dashiell Coleman / WFAE

How do you get teens to spend part of their summer vacation thinking about architecture and public policy? The Urban Land Institute of Charlotte turned to something that might sound a bit crazy: Hip Hop Architecture Camp

NC Virtual Public School logo
NC Virtual Public School

More than 200 teachers have been let go from online classes they lead for students across North Carolina. The layoffs apply only to the fall semester.

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

Updated 4 p.m. 8/2/2019

Smarting from the fallout of two superintendent searches that ended in failure, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board voted Friday to name Earnest Winston superintendent with no plans to conduct a search.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools

The state has authorized acting Superintendent Earnest Winston to lead Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools even without the traditional qualifications, a move the CMS board is likely to make official Friday morning.


The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board has called a special meeting at 8 a.m. Friday morning to consider a personnel contract.

CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox
Zuri Berry / WFAE

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board has hired a global public relations firm for $30,000 that specializes in crisis management to deal with the aftermath of the suspension of Superintendent Clayton Wilcox. The board suspended Wilcox Monday with pay.

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

The westside residents who gathered at a Freedom Drive school Monday night had hoped to hear Superintendent Clayton Wilcox talk about hiring a new principal for West Charlotte High. Instead, about 50 people heard Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board chair Mary McCray acknowledge that her board had just suspended Wilcox indefinitely.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox has been suspended by the board of education. After a meeting Monday morning between Wilcox and some school board leaders, CMS officials announced his suspension in an email. Wilcox, the district’s fifth superintendent in 10 years, has only been on the job two years.

CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox

Updated at 12:45 p.m.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox was suspended after meeting with school board leaders this morning.

In Part 1 of "Making the Grade," we looked at the imperfect system used to assign letter grades to North Carolina schools. In Part 2, we examine "growth scores," which are seen by some as a better way of evaluating schools and teacher quality.

The school year is almost over, but there's uncertainty hanging over every public school in North Carolina. School letter grades, which influence where parents buy homes or send their kids to school, are on the minds of educators as lawmakers in Raleigh grapple with a grading system that has never quite worked as planned.