If there were any question as to the level of vitriol and dysfunction inside both the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board and the administrative management of our schools as evidenced by the confusion surrounding the sudden resignation
of Superintendent Heath Morrison earlier this month, those questions evaporated once and for all Wednesday night with the public release of a letter sent by BOE General Legal Counsel George Battle to the Board, and circulated via, of all things, the Facebook accounts of the members involved. Here’s what Battle sent, in full:
Members of the Board,
I just want to inform you that I have been approached by several media outlets who say that they have been contacted by a Board member who has stated that the investigation into Dr. Morrison’s misconduct was initiated as a vendetta by me as a result of Dr. Morrison’s disapproval of my plan for reorganizing the Legal Department. I have spoken with a couple of outlets about this allegation already and plan to speak with more of them tomorrow.
First, as a review of the facts, in addition to the allegation not being true in any sense, Dr. Morrison expressed to me on 2 separate occasions that he fully supported my plan. In addition, it is reflected in the Board closed session minutes that “Dr. Morrison reported that he supports the recommendation.” Further, it is irrelevant if he supported the reorganization or not, as I neither reported to Dr. Morrison nor did I ask his opinion of the plan. I have attached a copy of the September 23, 2014 closed session minutes for review as it seems that one member seems to have forgotten that meeting. Additionally, I spoke with Tim and Mary and in accordance with Section 143-318.10(e) of the North Carolina General Statutes.
Second, I do know the identity of the Board member who has disseminated this lie. Several Board members over the last few weeks have informed me that you have made this statement to them (curiously enough, even though we have talked regularly over that time period, you have never mentioned this to me). Let me be clear - I will not be intimidated or bullied by you or any other person for doing my job. I have approached my job in the same fashion as I have done over the past 4 years and will continue to do it in the same fashion as you seemed to appreciate until it impacted your personal relationship. I don’t know if you thought that my judgment and legal ability (which you lauded publicly and privately) would only be used against those CMS employees without a title but, in case you did, let me assure you that it is my belief and my approach that no employee, whether they are at the top of the organizational chart or at the bottom is exempt from following the law and Board policy. To the extent you desire something different, you are free to caucus with your colleagues and end my employment by terminating my contract.
Third, contrary to my normal operating procedure, I am making this email public because it is not privileged and, most importantly, I will not allow anyone to ruin my reputation or drag my name through the mud simply because I did the job I have been hired to do. I fully accept and embrace that my clients are the decision-makers, but what I will not accept is the specter of being professionally and personally attacked as a result of a client not liking my advice. As an attorney, I learned long ago that I am not paid to tell my clients what they want to hear, I am paid to give them my best thinking based on my experience and training, regardless of whether they want to hear it or not. As much as I have cherished the opportunity I have had over the past 4 years to serve as General Counsel, I will not sacrifice my soul for the sake of the “comfort” gained by not giving the best counsel within my ability for fear of retribution.
George E. Battle, III
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education