After two Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board members made an unannounced tour of Project LIFT schools recently, colleague Rhonda Lennon says it's time for a public discussion of the proper way for board members to deal with CMS staff.
Lennon added the discussion to Tuesday night's agenda, with the support of members Eric Davis, Tim Morgan and Amelia Stinson-Wesley. "We need to as a board address where the line is -- how do we behave in public, what we're supposed to be doing," Lennon said today.
On March 1, board members Richard McElrath and Joyce Waddell visited schools in the new Project LIFT Zone, asking principals and teachers what they think of the effort to improve nine west Charlotte schools with private donations. The board voted unanimously in January to approve a contract that gave the philanthropic board an unprecedented role in running those schools, but McElrath said he still has questions and concerns.
“I’m just trying to get my head around the real focus of this program. I’m just confused about the long-term plan,” McElrath said, adding that he's especially concerned that it focuses on supporting "segregated schools in segregated neighborhoods."
Lennon said board members have to realize that even if they're voicing personal concerns, employees see them as the voice of authority. She said the board needs to talk about a perennial question: How to voice dissent without undermining board decisions. "If we have a 9-0 vote, should someone be out in the community saying they don't support it?"