West End residents gathered at Reeder Memorial Baptist to share what they want to see in the next superintendent. (Photo: Amanda Harry)

Connectivity, compassion and community ties were some qualities people want to see in the next superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. 

The Westside Forum hosted a town hall Thursday night to get community input on CMS’ search for its seventh superintendent since 2012.

Currently, Crystal Hill serves as interim superintendent through June 30. She succeeded Hugh Hattabaugh after he resigned from the permanent position in December due to “family reasons.”

CMS officially began its search for a new superintendent last month. According to Percy Mack of consulting firm BWP & Associates, candidates from as far as California have shown interest in the role. Mack said if the next candidate does not remain in the role for more than a year, BWP will renew its search contract at no cost to the school district. 

Mack led the discussion at Thursday night’s town hall by asking attendees to share the district’s strengths, weaknesses, and traits they feel are important in the next superintendent. 

When Mack asked attendees to share the strengths of CMS, a few chuckles sounded from the audience.

Many who spoke shared common concerns, such as student performance and behavior. One speaker, Tyesha Littlejohn, said she wants to see more afterschool programs for CMS students. 

“I feel like there’s not a lot of afterschool things for kids to do. So they don’t have a choice but to go and run around the streets and do things that they are not supposed to,” Littlejohn said. 

Another speaker, who identified himself as a recently retired teacher from West Charlotte High, said he wants the next superintendent to have a “strong commitment and focus” to diversity, equity and inclusion and a commitment to increasing the number of Black male teachers present in the district. 

He added that students having teachers who look like them could lead to “vast improvement” in areas like reading and behavior.

Colette Forrest, who has a son in 10th grade, listed off all of CMS’ recent superintendents from Hattabaugh  Hill. “I have never truly seen a true grasp of teachers’ appreciation and depth from any of these superintendents. Teachers are the backbone of the system,” Forrest said. She added that she wanted to see a superintendent that was a former teacher. 

With the feedback from recent town halls, BWP will create a profile for the school to be provided to the board for their ‘consideration next Tuesday. A new superintendent is expected to will be named on May 1.

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Amanda was born and raised in Charlotte and graduated from UNC Charlotte with a Bachelor’s in Communications and English. She covers Mecklenburg County. Reach her at amanda@qcitymetro.com

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  1. it is sad, but I see it as a reflection of CMS’ failures as much as anything else. This was performative, not substantive, and people knew better than to waste a couple hours of their time attending.