One of the cardinal rules governing the norms of human social interaction is that if someone is trying to hide bad or embarrassing news from the rest of the community, that effort is doomed to fail. Sooner or later, the truth, or some version of it, is going to be revealed. So if any of the people involved with the debacle concerning the so-called resignation of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison thought they’d get away with a bunch of phony handshakes and gritted-teeth smiles as he ran out of town as fast as he could, well, you’ve got to wonder what they’ve been drinking lately.
Last night, the School Board’s General Legal Counsel, George Battle III, sent a scathing email to the members of the Board, which he also made public. By early evening, the letter had been posted on various personal Facebook pages. In it, he describes in some detail a series of events going back to September involving allegations of financial and budgetary shenanigans and disagreements between Battle and Morrison over raises for legal department personnel, as well as Morrison’s handling of other budgetary issues.
Morrison has finally decided to defend himself, speaking with the Charlotte Observer. In the process of the whole mess beginning to spill out, here’s what it’s beginning to look like happened — taken with a grain or two of salt, understanding much of this is still conjecture and reading between the lines.
Essentially, everything concerning Morrison has not been so perfect since he took the job a little over two years ago. We’re now told his management style leaves a lot to be desired; he’s more than a little over-bearing, and he berates and demeans his staff, leaving some in tears. There’s more than a little evidence that some began looking for ways to "set him up," to find a way to get him fired. And he gave those who wanted him gone some ammunition in pushing some of his pet projects over others, irrespective of whether or not he had received the Board’s budgetary authorization to do so.
And then, at some point recently, someone on the Board instructed Battle to begin looking into the manner in which Morrison was handling his job. In other words, Battle was tasked with investigating, and then building a case for Morrison’s removal — and in doing so, Battle became “the enemy," and thus a target himself. This was war — and with the release of Battle’s correspondence to the Board Wednesday night, we can now see just how nasty and divided the whole sorry episode has become.
The bottom line is that we’ve been treated to a very ugly exhibition of adults who are tasked with running the state’s second largest school system and doing so in such a manner that leaves us wondering whether they even know what they’re doing. They can't seem to handle the most basic of interpersonal and professional of relationships across the board.
If this is the kind of behavior our supposed leaders think they should be modeling for our children, there’s not a lot of hope for our collective future.
Clearly, this story isn’t over. Not only is there the issue of finding a replacement for Morrison as superintendent, but, more importantly, the Board of Education needs to figure out how to regain the trust of this community. If this display was coming from our children, we’d suspend or expel them all. Stand by for Chapters 4, 5, 6 ... in our ongoing saga of How The Board Turns!