Heath Morrison has resigned from his position as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent shortly after the school board agreed to a voluntary separation with no extra severance pay for Morrison. The agreement went through with a 6-3 vote.
Part of that agreement states that CMS cannot talk badly about Morrison, and he cannot talk badly about the district.
Until the announcement of his resignation, Morrison had been viewed as a rising star in the school district. He had been brought into the position through a nationwide search and quickly named National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators.
In the two years he has been in office, there were no problems reported. Morrison released a letter in which he explained his resignation was necessary in order for him to properly care for his ailing mother.
While serving as superintendent is an honor and privilege, it requires a singular and unwavering focus. Recent events have challenged that focus, and I must now rededicate myself to my family, most especially my mother,” Morrison writes.
However, rumors suggest that Morrison had been forced out by the school board, though no one directly involved would provide a comment. Instead, members issued a statement that simply said they respected his decision to “put family first.”
It is thought that an October investigation could have something to do with a resignation that was categorized as a surprise. Morrison had been investigated by the CMS legal department concerning allegations of misconduct, which included belittling staff members.
“I never experienced that personally, but I’d heard anecdotes about that” with people who worked in and around Morrison’s office, said Guy Chamberlain, who recently retired as associate superintendent in charge of construction. “It was legendary.”
Chamberlain believes the school board was concerned over the cost associated with getting 10 buildings ready for new schools that opened this August. Morrison had presented the plans last year without discussing costs. When asked, CMS staff offered a list totaling $3.7 million, but in the end, the cost came to $15 million.
Morrison’s employment contract, which had recently been updated in an effort to get him to stay in the position longer, states that he must give the board 90 days notice of his resignation, with payments through the resignation date. However, if he were to be fired without cause, he would be owed payment through the end of his contract, amounting to $750,000. If he had been fired with just cause he would not receive any payments, although that could only happen under very specific criteria such as illegal activity and insubordination.
Asked about whether any board members had spoken to him about allegations of misconduct, Morrison said: “What I’ve decided to do is spend time with my family right now. I can’t fight things that are rumor and innuendo. I know the job that I do. I know how I do it. I’m proud of the work that I’ve done and that’s the answer.”
CMS Deputy Superintendent Ann Clark is expected to take over Morrison’s responsibilities leading the district. Charlotte-Mecklenburg serves over 135,000 students and is the second-largest school district in North Carolina and the 18th largest in the nation.