OccupationAttorney at Law
Involvement with the school district (employment, kids in the system, volunteer, appointed or elected roles):
I am a CMS graduate. I have two grandchildren who are graduates from CMS schools. I have volunteered as a reading buddy and a math tutor at the Walter G. Byers Academy.
I have served District 2 for almost 9 years at their representative on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. I have served almost 2 years as Vice-Chair of the school board. I have been elected to represent CMS and the greater geographic area for 2 terms on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA).
I have served my neighborhood at President of the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Association for over 15 years. I have also served one term as treasurer of my local precinct.
Education and/or political advocacy groups you’re affiliated with:
I am affilliated with the Black Political Caucus, the African-American Caucus of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party, the Senior Dems, and the Democratic Women of Mecklenburg County as well as my local Democratic precinct.
Other relevant experience:
I graduated from West Charlotte Senior High School; from Fisk University with BA; from St. Louis University with a JD and a MA. Having been admitted to the California Bar, I worked at the Pasadena Legal Services before opening my own solo law practice in Sacramento, CA where I served as the President of the Wiley Manuel Bar Association.
I am a registered Democrat
What actions should the school board take to improve outcomes for students and schools that are performing below expectations?The school board should continue to monitor the progress of the students in accordance with the smartened goals and guardrails the board set forth in the CMS updated strategic plan. If the reports do not indicate that students scores are improving, the board should make sure strategies are being implemented that will demonstrate improvement by the next report.
The board should also look to those schools that are repeatedly exceeding growth as models for what other schools should implement to produce similar results.
What are the district’s most significant funding needs, and what should the board do to meet them?The district's most significant funding need is increased salaries for teachers and other school staff. We do not have enough highly qualified teachers and principals to staff all our low performing schools. The board has and will continue to lobby our state legislators to increase their pay as well as allow our retired staff to return to work to make up the difference without salary penalties. The board has and will continue to urge our county partners to supplement our educator's salaries to levels that will stop the outflow of our staff to counties and states that pay dramatically more than CMS can currently offer..
How would you rate current leadership of the district (board and superintendent)? What changes would you propose?I believe our Interim Superintendent is doing an outstanding job of re-aligning our learning communities to be more effective. I believe our current board has adopted and is enforcing the Student Outcomes Focused Governance (SOFG) model of oversight with fidelity that will prove to lay the best foundation for student success. I believe the board needs to keep its hand on that plow while it endeavors to embark on a search for our next Superintendent with community input on what qualities they believe we need in our future Superintendent.
What should the board do to improve safety for students and employees?The board needs to make sure the Multi Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is fully staffed with the numbers of Social Workers, Councilors and Psychologists necessary to make sure every student's needs are met and all barriers to learning have been mitigated.
Are there additional issues, themes or characteristics that you see as central in your campaign?I believe that over the 9 years I have been on this board, I have taken the time to travel across this country and to listen and learn from experts in education on what it takes to educate every child regardless of their background, their language or their disability. I have persevered to solve problems I have observed in both CMS as well as the communities we serve. I have endeavored to make myself available to parents, students, staff and community members who have expressed concerns and I have advocated for their solutions. My phone rings sometimes non-stop and most callers are grateful, saying that I am the only one who actually answers their phone.
I have been a servant-leader who has climbed the mountains of some of problems I have observed and produced some successes. When I was at one of the national conferences, I was advised not to hesitate to seek another term on our board because I now have a vision of what the next mountains are that need to be scaled - that my experiences make me even more of an asset to the students and community that I serve.
OccupationNurse Case Manager
Involvement with the school district (employment, kids in the system, volunteer, appointed or elected roles):Board of Education, District 1 since 2009
South Meck HS graduate
Parent of 3 K-12 CMS graduates
North Carolina PTA Volunteer of the Year (Oak Leaf Award)
PTA Board Member at 4 CMS Schools
CMS Volunteer in numerous roles: Room parent, Field trip chaperone, Math Superstars tutor, Health Room Assistant, Team parent in both MS and HS for soccer, track and cross county
Founder of F.U.M.E. Families United for Mecklenburg Education, an advocacy group to lobby for increased capital funding for North Mecklenburg.
Political experience:Board of Education, District 1 since 2009
Education and/or political advocacy groups you’re affiliated with:
Other relevant experience:Founder of F.U.M.E. Families United for Mecklenburg Education, an advocacy group to lobby for increased capital fundng for North Mecklenburg.
Citizen Capital Budget Advisory Committee (CCBAC)- Appointee to the Mecklenburg County committee from 2003-2008. Chair of the CMS and CPCC Sub-committees. Vice-Chair of CCBAC 2007-2008.
School Building Solutions Committee- Appointment for Town Of Huntersville on the committee lead by former Governor Martin following the failed 2007 bond.
Superintendent Standards Review Committee 2005-2006- Appointed by CMS Board of Education. Committee review capital facilities and looked for efficiencies and improvement in function.
Former Board member; Charlotte Advocates for Education
What actions should the school board take to improve outcomes for students and schools that are performing below expectations?The board role/responsibilities are to: Hire/Fire/Superintendent, Establish policy, Develop capital and operating budget, approve student assignment boundaries, and oversee management of all operation. With that in mind, the board needs to ensure that each student has the resources and support to achieve their highest potential.
Provide the operating resources and support to:Recruit and retain highly effective teachers for every classroom, Fully staff the multi-tiered system of support which identifies the differentiated needs of eachstudent and provides supports needed to be successful (this includes academic, social and wellness),Provide a robust tutoring and in-school interventions designed to remediate areas of concern.Integrated afterschool options to coordinate with school day classroom instruction. Including partnering with known successful programs in the communitySummer learning enrichment programs that are well vetted and integrated with the curriculumContinued profession development for teachers and staff with emphasis on literacy fundamentals in the early grades.Literacy and math curricula that have integrity from school to school, but are able to be adapted at each school to the needs of their population.
Continue a robust student outcomes focused governance modelHire and retain a visionary, dynamic leader as Superintendent.
What are the district’s most significant funding needs, and what should the board do to meet them?The first step needs to be a comprehensive business audit to review all departments and make sure there are no redundancies and everything is streamlined, especially in central office. Our resources need to be directed to student focused staff.Salary increases for all staffIncreased positions in student support servicesEnhanced tutoring, after school enrichment and summer enrichment programs.Facility capital needs
How would you rate current leadership of the district (board and superintendent)? What changes would you propose?Our new interim Superintendent is doing a fabulous job of returning to student outcomes focused priorities, with emphasis on the board goal and guardrails. A pedagogically focused plan of action, with interim steps to measure progress has been implemented. A top down management style with work in all areas of compliance, consistency and improving culture is underway. I give him an A for the work he is doing and how quickly he is turning around processes and systems within the organization.
I give the board overall at B- at this time. Because of splintered efforts on some initiative, failure to stay out of the “weeds” and several members straying into management instead of remaining governance focused. I would give myself a B+ at this time, for trying to remain student focused in all decisions and also remaining the in management oversight role.
The leadership team needs to continue to build on the student outcomes focused governance model and differentiate the work that both sides are doing. With the Superintendent and his designees focusing on procedures and pedagogy. The board need to be tightly focused on governance and oversight and not trying to micromanage staff.
What should the board do to improve safety for students and employees?Expand proven safety and violence prevention programs that I have been a lead advocate for in the past, like Dads on Duty/Titan Men on a Mission, Say Something App, Use of Body Scanners across all high schools, middle schools and expand to elementary schools.
Increase social, emotional and mental health supports for students while increasing awareness and access to these supports.
Coordinate with our partners ( Charlotte and the 6 suburban towns, Mecklenburg County, and all Local Law Enforcement), to reduce the violence in our communities that spills into our schools.
Improve Title IX Compliance by increased training at every level, including students and by expanding the department to have more centralized investigation and communication.
Are there additional issues, themes or characteristics that you see as central in your campaign?Experienced and effective leadership are needed to represent District 1 through upcoming student assignment policy review, development of a capital bond campaign, selecting a long term Superintendent and continued student outcomes focused governance. An experience leader with a proven track record of buidling relationships and consensus to accomplish great things for students is needed.
Involvement with the school district (employment, kids in the system, volunteer, appointed or elected roles):29+ in CMS as a teacher, curriculum lead, and administrator. Most importantly, a parent for 15 years where I was on the PTSA Boards of Olde Providence, Carmel and Myers Park.
Education and/or political advocacy groups you’re affiliated with:I am a member of the Charity League of Charlotte which volunteers in schools. I was part of Save the Olde Providence Park.
Other relevant experience:None
What actions should the school board take to improve outcomes for students and schools that are performing below expectations?Provide additional funding to schools experiencing low performance so that teachers can have additional supplies to meet the needs of students. Those teachers should also receive additional pay for the extra help.
What are the district’s most significant funding needs, and what should the board do to meet them?The district needs to direct additional funding to low performing schools. to aid in closing the achievement gap. Older schools need funding to bring them into the 21st century. Funding to central office staff should be redirected back to the schools..
How would you rate current leadership of the district (board and superintendent)? What changes would you propose?I would rate the Board the same as the District: D-. We cannot have 50 failing schools and have a Board with a grade any higher. While the superintendent is temporary, his performance grade would be a B as he is doing an admirable job with the restraints on him.
What should the board do to improve safety for students and employees?It should redirect additional funds to safety so that retired policemen or military can be hired to provide additional personnel to cover all levels, in particular the elementary schools. CMS can also build a closer relationship with the municipalities to provide additional security to the schools.
Are there additional issues, themes or characteristics that you see as central in your campaign?Rebuilding the trust between parents and students. Raising the standards and expectations for all students while supporting them to reach their potential. Every child should be prepared to be a productive citizen post high school whether they follow a vocational path or college path.
OccupationCustomer Support Specialist for Nearpod LLC
Involvement with the school district (employment, kids in the system, volunteer, appointed or elected roles):Ten year CMS veteran Science and Social Studies teacher
Holds a Masters degree in K-12 Instructional Technology
A National Board Certified teacher
Co-Founder of North Carolina Teachers United. The largest pro-public education support and resource group in the state.
Parent of two students in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools
Political experience:I have been an educational advocate since 2017, this is my frist time running for office.
Education and/or political advocacy groups you’re affiliated with:North Carolina Teacher United, North Carolina Associate of Education, Charlotte- Mecklenburg Association of Educators
Other relevant experience:
What actions should the school board take to improve outcomes for students and schools that are performing below expectations?We need to continue to focus on the future in CMS.The main impact of COVID on learning system-wide was that it increased gaps between our high achieving students and our low achieving students. While test scores are important indicators, they are not always the best measure of how we are doing after a major disruption such as Covid. We need to get the best principals and teachers in front of our students and to do that we need to focus on not only our academic strategy, but the culture of CMS. We need to make sure that our teachers feel supported, valued and trusted. When teachers feel valued and supported in their school, student achievement will follow. We need to be focusing on both the academic strategy as well as the culture to move CMS forward.
What are the district’s most significant funding needs, and what should the board do to meet them?There is currently a severe staffing shortage that undermines both student learning and staff morale. There are things we can control in CMS and there are things that fall on the County and the state. As a board member I can advocate for these things and stand behind our CMS community. I can use my connections that I have made not only around Mecklenburg, but the state as well to have these conversations and show how we all must work together to overcome this issue.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public schools have $2,823,301,080 in capital needs over the next five years. My focus would start with building code/life safety issues (two factors in this air conditioning/air filters/Hvac and the other side of this is life safety for our staff and students (broken windows, doors ect), then move on to class sizes and obsolete facilities..
How would you rate current leadership of the district (board and superintendent)? What changes would you propose?I would currently rate the board with a middle of the road and needs improvement. The board's primary responsibility is to be the voice for the community. The pandemic was unprecedented and it took a lot of time to adjust. I feel the board did what they could with the ever changing information.
We can continue to place blame, or we can look to the future and how we are going to restore CMS to the county it was in 2011 when it won the Broad Prize for Urban Education for not only the greatest student academic gains, but narrowed achievement gaps between African-American and white students in reading and math at all school levels.
What should the board do to improve safety for students and employees?There are two aspects of safety for our students and employees. The first being physical safety. This is focusing on safe routes to and from the bus stop and to school, as well as making sure our buildings are safe for students and staff.
CMS has made strides with this, by adding body scanners and having safety screenings being done by trained staff with help from law enforcement. I want to continue to look at each individual building and see how we can best keep our students physically safe.
The other aspect of safety for our students and employees is to make sure they are free from bullying, bigotry and racism. As a board member I can contribute to policies that make a strong statement that CMS does not allow bullying, bigotry or racism in our schools. It is our job to make policies that are inclusive, equitable for all students and their families.
Are there additional issues, themes or characteristics that you see as central in your campaign?I would like to focus on the culture of CMS. How the CMS board interacts with the public, staff, students and families have been damaged. We need to repair this culture in order to be a successful district. This includes standing behind our teachers and we advocate for them on both the local and state levels. Bringing trust back to the CMS board will increase teacher acquisition and retention, which in turn will help student achievement.
OccupationExecutive Search and Leadership Consultant
Involvement with the school district (employment, kids in the system, volunteer, appointed or elected roles):CMS School Board At Large Member 2006-2011. Parent of 3 CMS students 2007-2026.
Political experience:CMS School Board At Large Member 2006-2011.
Education and/or political advocacy groups you’re affiliated with:None.
Other relevant experience:Education: Early Career - Teacher, Coach, Theatre Director, administration. Board Member - The Epiphany School of Charlotte 2021-2022. Youth Sports Coach 1989-2018. Current clients include 2 public school districts in CA and MO.
Other relevant Leadership Experience: Set up the first-ever Talent function at a company we grew to $5B. Later led the International Division of the same company.
What actions should the school board take to improve outcomes for students and schools that are performing below expectations?We are never going to volunteer our way to success over the long term, but in the short term the Board should be issuing an urgent call to the community for an all-hands-on-deck approach. We need reading buddies and math tutors. An even better use of volunteer time and energy may be taking side duties off of the plates of teachers, so they have more time to devote to individual and small group extra help.
The Goals and Guidelines are a good start. But I am concerned that there are too many guidelines, and they mask the fact that the Board has too many priorities.
I am pleased that the Board has adopted a monitoring calendar to implement a framework for oversight of student learning outcomes. But I wonder where in the world that has been before now. It also remains to be seen whether the Office of Accountability can deliver data that is relevant and actionable - data needs to help us navigate where we are going, not just tell us where we have been.
When I was on the Board 2006–2011, we had a relentless focus on student learning outcomes. Our mantra was Raise the Bar and Close the Gap. It drove every meeting and every decision, and it was successful. I joined a broken Board in 2006, and 5 years later we won the the national Broad Prize in Urban Education, based on “the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement while narrowing achievement gaps among low-income students and students of color.” The Board must have the discipline to focus on the main thing.
We will only get traction through outstanding executive leadership. A critical step will be hiring a great Superintendent. Fortunately, as an executive search consultant I bring expertise in helping organizations hire the best senior leaders. When I led the Talent function at a large company, I hired and managed outside executive search firms, so I bring that skill as well.
A great Superintendent will attract talented senior leaders who will improve the overall quality of the leadership team. Then we need to get outstanding Principals in every school.
What are the district’s most significant funding needs, and what should the board do to meet them?State: More of the same type of advocacy is not going to get results. We must operate from a position of affirmation, rather than protest - from strength, rather than weakness.Focus first on driving results with the funding we have now. Prove that we are competent and punching above our weight.Tell our story in our own community to generate support from large employers, other elected bodies, and the community at large. Engage them as allies.With a new, larger, and well-respected coalition, go to neighboring counties in the Charlotte MSA, Wake, Forsyth, Guilford, etc to get them on board - school boards, teachers, elected bodies, employers, community members....Engage smaller counties the same wayWith an unstoppable coalition that is aligned around a common goal, demand that state
Legislators increase funding.
County: I understand the County Commission’s frustrations. We need to get some results, and more importantly, we need to have a clear strategy that we can present to the county in order to request full funding.
Other: With the resources that we have in Mecklenburg County, we need to consider creating a path to start a pseudo-endowment that will protect teacher compensation from the whims of politicians. The CMS Foundation is a potential vehicle. It has never reached its potential or had a mission that was big enough or consistent enough, but it DOES have some talented community members involved....
How would you rate current leadership of the district (board and superintendent)? What changes would you propose?There has been no leadership from the Superintendent position in recent years. The previous 2 (permanent) Superintendents never led - they reacted - or were paralyzed.
He isn't a warm fuzzy guy, but Hugh Hattabaugh has taken some good steps to implement structure and get more of the right people to the right positions, though he has not been able to hire new talent as an interim. When I am seated on the Board, I hope that we will give the interim Superintendent license to begin clearing the decks, removing blockers, and setting the table for the new superintendent who will start in 2023.
The Board has too many priorities and too many individual agendas. Certain members have been more interested in winning arguments than they have been in governing. They have spent too much time re-litigating past issues, and not enough time being present with an eye towards the future. Some individual Board members need to understand that they don't have a vote as much as they have 1/9th of a vote. The leadership of the Board sometimes gives too much oxygen to members who were on the losing end of a vote but refuse to let an issue go. Once an issue has been decided, we need to move on. I believe that the election will help solve some of that problem. Then hiring a new Superintendent will help us get the traction that we need to keep moving forward.
What should the board do to improve safety for students and employees?1. I support the physical steps that have already been taken. Magnetometers, wands, resource officers, etc…All new construction and renovation should include safety considerations among the top 2-3 priorities - access to campus, access to and from buildings, reinforced glass, reinforced concrete block, doors that are easy to lock, classrooms constructed in a way that offers refuge/shelter, panic buttons, etc.Establish cultures where students feel welcome and safe, not only physically, but also intellectually and emotionally. It starts with having strong, empathetic leadership at each school.Overhaul current and (based on what I have heard from students at the middle and high school levels) ineffective anti-bullying education. Bullying is not the cause of school shootings, but most school shooters are ultra-local - and most felt ostracized, excluded or bullied at their schools. The new Superintendent needs to have: Proven success leading a complex organization with multiple sites, and many employees and customers Courage, decisiveness, ability to execute without having all of the information Vision to anticipate and a proactive approach Humility and openness to seek outside expertise.
Are there additional issues, themes or characteristics that you see as central in your campaign?My top priorities include the following:Raising the bar and closing gaps regarding student achievementCreating a culture of support for teachersEnsuring safe schools, physically, intellectually, and emotionallyRestoring vision, direction, and accountability through strong board and executive leadershipRebuilding relationships based on trust with the county commission, CMS families, teachers,
We knit all of that together through Culture. CMS has a lot of stuff – a lot of programs, initiatives, and so forth. But none of it matters and none of it can take root without the framework of a healthy functioning culture. Culture starts at the top with the Board. We need to be mindful not only of WHAT we are doing and saying, but HOW we are doing and saying it. The first piece that I put out in my campaign was about expanding our answer to the question “Who is my neighbor?” We need to get the community on the same page regarding our commitment to ALL of our children...
We have an opportunity to unite our community around the worthiest of causes – making sure that our children have the knowledge base and skills to make informed choices and live with purpose as successful adults. With the resources that we have in Mecklenburg County, we are uniquely positioned to make CMS a talent development factory that does the right thing for all of our children, grows our economy, and makes our community an even more attractive place to live. The current board vision is a great place to start... “The vision of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is to lead the community in educational excellence, inspiring intellectual curiosity, creativity, and achievement so that all students reach their full potential.”
We start right now by giving principals and teachers room to run, and having their backs. Micromanagement never leads the way out of a crisis. Board and executive leadership need to make sure that our schools are safe and that our classrooms are inclusive incubators, where teachers and students have safe intellectual and emotional space to make connections and have discussions that will foster learning.
The Board needs to demonstrate that it can work together to hire an outstanding Superintendent and drive relentless focus on the main thing – raising the bar and closing the gap in student learning outcomes. Once we do that, and start to get some wins, we need to tell our own story from a point of affirmation rather than defensiveness. We need to be proactive rather than reactive. We need to play open cards and approach community and intergovernmental relationships from a framework of collaboration rather than confrontation.
And then we will realize that we are laying the foundation to create a culture - because, again, we really don’t have one in CMS right now - we just have a lot of stuff...
The foundational ingredients for creating culture are:authenticity to assess situations honestlyempathy to build relationshipstransparent communicationhumility to adapt and evolveintentional focus on the main thing - maximizing success for each student.
Indications of a healthy School Board culture include:Hiring a Superintendent who will lead, not manage or reactAsking questions rather than pontificatingListening to find opportunities for cooperation, rather than competitionAccepting blame and giving away creditStaying present with an eye towards the future - not re-litigating the pastMaking decisions under imperfect conditions, in ways that can be adapted and scaled, so we keep moving forward.
OccupationChief Marketing Officer
Involvement with the school district (employment, kids in the system, volunteer, appointed or elected roles):Mom of 2 (K and 4th), volunteer to read and room parent, Student Improvement Team/Parent Leadership Team for the 3 years helping oversee goals and plans to reach school level goals alongside principals and teachers.
Education and/or political advocacy groups you’re affiliated with:EqualityNC Endorsement and CMAE
Other relevant experience:Success Business Executive and only candidate who is C-Suite level as a Chief Marketing Officer leading multi-location business with large, complex budgets.
What actions should the school board take to improve outcomes for students and schools that are performing below expectations?1: Hire the right superintendent that has the right experience, track record, and references that show they are committed to CMS's success by improving student outcomes and ready to take on a challenge where we are falling short not only for our students but willing to creates an environment where teachers and staff are heard and valued2: Create the goals and guidelines to improve student achievement and constantly measure the progress. We have to be thorough and transparent about what is working and what is not so we adjust quickly to meet our student's needs.3. Make sure the superintendent has the right people in the right positions and is creating an infrastructure where all employees are valued and heard to help achieve the goals which being held accountable4. Reallocate funding and resources based on student needs and work to increase funding through the county and corporate relations in the short-term and state longer-term5. Work towards retaining and recruiting experienced teachers and staff by improving wages and work environment with better leadership, policies, and funding
What are the district’s most significant funding needs, and what should the board do to meet them?.The budget's biggest need is an increase in resources including making sure teachers have a livable wage and we increase headcount to support our kids and student outcomes. We need to retain and add more experienced teachers. There is also a need for more in-classroom support staff to meet our student needs to achieve their highest potential. Data shows more experience teachers and staff improve the overall performance of students. Need to work on a proper plan and develop deeper relationships with the County Commissioners to fund the budget fully considering over 70% of the county when surveyed said we need to increase our investment in our schools and kids. We also need to work with corporate leadership in Charlotte to start to invest in Charlotte the same way the Charlotte community has invested in their business's success. Finally, push the state to improve funding by working with the legislatures and other school boards to gain their support and fully support Leandro Case.
How would you rate current leadership of the district (board and superintendent)? What changes would you propose?Student Outcomes: D based on recent scores and delay in putting goals and measurements in place to hold leadership accountable; Superintendent/Board Leadership: F based on 7 superintendent changes over the past 10 years, inability to get the County to fund fully budget requests, decrease in teacher and staff satisfaction and retention, community trust is low with the outcomes and lack of transparency and communication. It goes back to have the right leadership on the board to work collectively for the community and has the experience to guide such a large organization focused on the success of our kids.
What should the board do to improve safety for students and employees?The bigger question is what should the community do to make safety improvements for students and employees. We need to start by listening to the community about how they think we improve safety. What I hear from parents is there is a need for more support staff to support all of the kid's needs which means more funding for the county and state. We need more classroom staff, counselors, and psychologists to make sure we are meeting all of our student's needs academically, socially, and emotionally. We need to teach our kids to openly communicate and say something when they see something which I know is part of the training today. Beyond securing our schools to limit entry, body scanners, and safety classroom protocols we need the local county and city support to make sure we have the proper safety procedures and law enforcement support when needed for traffic and on premise school activities.
Are there additional issues, themes or characteristics that you see as central in your campaign?The role of the board is to represent the community. That means being the voice and driving outreach and engagement to understand what value and foresee is best for our kids and schools. There is a lack of community engagement and transparency today. Being a marketing expert, I can help the board create better strategies and ways to listen and work with the community. We also need to make sure our superintendent creates the proper communication channels throughout all of CMS down to the employee level and parents. They need to feel heard and have their feedback valued. School board members also lack the leadership experience to handle such a large organization. CMS is 180 schools, with almost 20,000 employees, supporting 140,000 kids with a $2 Billion Annual Budget to operate the schools and over $3B in capital needed to build and update school facilities through bond proposals next year. We need business leadership that has a successful track record of driving strategies and performance improvement plans by setting the right goals and vision, hiring the right leadership who builds the right team, and securing and managing complex budgets to make sure we are operating properly and investing correctly in the right things. I have that experience as a business executive for successful Charlotte-based businesses and I am the only candidate with c-suite experience as a Chief Marketing Officer. We need to make sure the success of Charlotte is seen in our children and we need to forge stronger community, county, and corporate relationships to help support CMS further.
OccupationProgram Supervisor with Thompson Child & Family Focus
Involvement with the school district (employment, kids in the system, volunteer, appointed or elected roles):Parent (One grad, two current students at Hopewell HS), Appointed to the CMS Equity Committee where I served as the co-chair of the Student Wellness Sub-Committee
Education and/or political advocacy groups you’re affiliated with:Black Political Caucus (Former chair of the Education Committee)
Other relevant experience:
What actions should the school board take to improve outcomes for students and schools that are performing below expectations?First action would be to hire a superintendent that is capable of leading a district this size and diverse as CMS. Second, create policy that supports pedological growth and creates and an environment that is conducive for students to learn.
What are the district’s most significant funding needs, and what should the board do to meet them?Critical funding needs are increasing teacher pay, facilities, safety, and providing professional development for educators. The BOE should advocate to the state as well as the county to increase funding so that these needs can be met.
How would you rate current leadership of the district (board and superintendent)? What changes would you propose?I would rate the current board and superintendent as a C. Improved communication with the public, focus on student outcomes governance, and lead more from a macro level
What should the board do to improve safety for students and employees?The board should continue to expand it safety measures not only for violence but also review bullying policies as well sexual assault policies.
Are there additional issues, themes or characteristics that you see as central in your campaign?The three principles of my campaign are Quality Education, Equitable Resources, and Improved School Experiences.
OccupationCharlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, Dist. 4 representative
Involvement with the school district (employment, kids in the system, volunteer, appointed or elected roles):I currently serve as the District 4 representative to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. My daughter is a proud East Mecklenburg High School graduate. I taught hands-on science in CMS both as an employee at Irwin Avenue Open Elementary and as a volunteer in several CMS schools. I have been an active CMS volunteer — serving on numerous PTAs, and School Improvement Teams. I tutored elementary students with HEART Math. I served on a previous version of the equity committee. Because I believe in telling the full story of African American history, when our daughter was in middle school, I worked with noted civil rights leader B.B. DeLaine to organize a four-day civil rights history tour for CMS and Clarendon County, South Carolina students.
Political experience:Elected to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education in 2017
Education and/or political advocacy groups you’re affiliated with:Education: University of Wisconsin-Madison BS Psychology; University of Pennsylvania MS Anatomy; The George Washington University MA Museum Studies I was a co-founder and leader of education advocacy groups OneMECK and Mecklenburg ACTS. I was employed by One Iowa, the state’s LGBTQ advocacy organization.
Other relevant experience:When I was 10, I went to school board meetings with my mom. Back then, my school district charged textbook rental fees. My mom fought those fees. She saw families struggling to pay, and their shame they faced when they couldn’t. I learned from my mom the power of advocacy and the importance of equity.
As a child I learned that policy had the power to change institutions and lives. Now as Policy Committee Chair, I’m working with my colleagues to ensure that CMS reflects the values of OUR community.
This is important work that will make our system stronger, more accountable, and more equitable
What actions should the school board take to improve outcomes for students and schools that are performing below expectations?We have set aggressive goals to improve all student outcomes, with a particular focus on students performing below expectations. The Board is monitoring progress toward those goals monthly and holding the superintendent accountable for reaching targets. In order to attain these goals, the Board must work to find local solutions to the nationwide shortage of educators.
The Board must join with allies across the state to make educator salaries in North Carolina competitive. In addition, we will continue to advocate for simple changes in teacher licensure that would make hiring easier. At present, even a National Board Certified teacher from out-of-state must jump through hoops to gain a NC Teacher License. If North Carolina accepted teacher licenses from other states, we could be more competitive in hiring.
What are the district’s most significant funding needs, and what should the board do to meet them?Low wages and salaries make it difficult for CMS to hire and retain talented individuals. We need to continue to lobby the North Carolina General Assembly to increase educator pay such that it is competitive with other similarly degreed professions. The Board must continue to advocate for county to fund supplementary salary funds for CMS employees. Our educators and staff struggle to afford housing and living expenses in Mecklenburg County.
Our students deserve school buildings that are conducive to learning. CMS has significant needs both for new schools and major maintenance on old schools. CMS is nearing completion of the building projects funded by the 2017 bond referendum. I fully support a bond referendum for the 2023 ballot to address the new schools/replacement school needs in the coming years. .
How would you rate current leadership of the district (board and superintendent)? What changes would you propose?The Board and Superintendent are laser focused on student outcomes -- what students know and are able to do. We need to maintain that discipline and not yield to distractions.
Board Chair Dashew understands the need to keep the focus on students. To that end she has held two workshops for candidates so that new members of the Board will hit the ground running.
Interim Superintendent Hattabaugh has aligned the district to the Board adopted goals. He has built a system to monitor progress, adjust strategies as needed, provide support, and hold staff accountable.
What should the board do to improve safety for students and employees?Key to school safety is for each student must have a trusted adult on campus. Schools that create a culture of caring see reduced bullying behaviors and fewer discipline problems. I support the continued expansion of restorative practices rather than exclusionary discipline for all but the most serious infractions in our schools.
Are there additional issues, themes or characteristics that you see as central in your campaign?When I was first elected to the Board, I successfully championed a new Equity Policy. I spent months drafting that policy in collaboration with education advocates and the Black Political Caucus Education Committee. I worked to re-establish a Community Equity Committee. Establishing that Committee was difficult – several Board members opposed its creation, but I persisted because I was committed to having community members engaging with the Board on our equity work. The Board has already changed our discipline policy because of the Committee’s work.
The Board’s role, by law, is to set policy. I’ve become a Board leader in this work and want to continue to make our schools better for our students and families.
Involvement with the school district (employment, kids in the system, volunteer, appointed or elected roles):CMS Parent; CMS Volunteer; PTA member; CMS Bond Oversight Committee member
Political experience:Immediate Past Chairperson Black Political Caucus of Charlotte Mecklenburg, Prior Precinct Vice-Chair, Prior Candidate
Education and/or political advocacy groups you’re affiliated with:Founding Member and Project Lead of Charlotte Community Think Tank (formerly known as Westside & Eastside Education Think Tank and Thomasboro Foundation); Black Political Caucus of Charlotte Mecklenburg(Chairperson and Education Committee Member)
Other relevant experience:I currently work as a trial attorney practicing in the areas of labor and employment law. I have worked for all levels of public/private entities serving in various roles, which have included but is not limited to attorney and environmental planner. As a trial attorney representing the state, I was an advocate for children that had been subjected to educational neglect and physical and mental abuse, in order to ensure their health, safety and welfare. As an environmental planner for a regional governmental authority, I was instrumental in coordinating numerous governmental entities, throughout a vast metropolitan region, with implementation of coordinated environmental programs.
I served as the Chairperson of the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, one of the largest nonpartisan political organizations in the state of North Carolina where I led the organization in its efforts to address wide-ranging legislative matters on federal, state and local levels through position statements, establishing legislative agenda, communications with elected officials, community forums and videocast. These efforts have included specific measures to address student outcomes in our schools. I led a robust get out the vote program that included voter registration, canvassing, phone banking, radio and social media campaigns. These efforts also included key community partnerships that included high school students and grassroots organizations.
I was appointed to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Bond Oversight Committee. I served on the Black Political Caucus Education Committee. As a project lead for Charlotte Community Think Tank (formerly the Westside Education Think Tank and Eastside Education Think Tank), which is committed to raising awareness and offering solutions to issues in the education arena that includes not only schools but parent advocates, community, and non-profit partnerships. While working with these organizations I led efforts pertaining to creating parent advocates; created a parent hotline to address issues parents and students were facing during pandemic school closures; and established a partnership with a non-profit and private company that resulted in the hiring of high school students for skilled trade jobs immediately upon graduation.
On many occasions I have addressed the Board of Education and met with CMS leadership/Board. I have participated as volunteer, moderator and panelists for countless community forums, events and service projects on a wide-range of topics important to the community.
I initiated a voter registration campaign that went viral and was recognized in the national media. I also served as the Vice-Chair of her voting precinct. As a twenty-plus year member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a public service organization, I have engaged in countless public service programs, many of which focused on underserved children and political awareness. As a member of Jack and Jill, Inc. and a Girl Scout leader, I have been committed to helping develop youth into future leaders.
What actions should the school board take to improve outcomes for students and schools that are performing below expectations?The Board must set aggressive, measurable and equitable goals that includes equity and closing achievement gaps to ensure all students are college or career ready. The Board must set aggressive standards and goals for the Superintendent that coincide with the Board's goals especially noting, student achievement, closing achievement gaps, equity, support for student teacher/staff, access to mental health, and collaboration with other governmental entities, parents and community stakeholders. The Board must be able to specifically identify, explain and approve a budget that will support the Board's goals and desired student outcomes. Finally, the Board must be transparent and accountable to the community for which it serves.
What are the district’s most significant funding needs, and what should the board do to meet them?The most significant funding must be to: 1) student achievement, including but not limited to specific monies for closing achievement gaps and recovering for COVID learning losses, improving high school endorsement for students; 2) support for teachers and staff, including but not limited to teacher supplement, monies for support staff (i.e. teacher assistant, reading specialist) teacher retention/recruitment, professional development; 3) increase access for mental health support for students and families (social workers, and psychologist); and 4) Investment to support programs for community partner programs.
How would you rate current leadership of the district (board and superintendent)? What changes would you propose?The Board and CMS has much work to do! This will always be my answer until every student graduates CMS college or career ready. This is currently not the case. (1) The Board must be comprised of: members that are trusted leaders; have genuine connections to the community that the Board serves; have experience in administration and human resources for large organizations; grass roots experience with parents and community stakeholders; children recently in CMS; and has relationships with government, community and corporate leaders. (2) The Board must set aggressive, measurable and equitable goals that will produce college or career readiness outcomes that includes equity, closing achievement gaps. The Board must set goals for a broader range of students, beyond 3rd grade reading. For example, there are a population of students particularly those that are currently in 4th and 5th grade who will not have the opportunity for fundamental reading instruction once they enter high school. We know that these students were particularly impacted by loss of learning opportunities in COVID. These students cannot be left behind. (3) The Board must set aggressive standards and goals for the Superintendent that coincide with the Board's goals especially noting, student achievement, closing achievement gaps, equity, support for student teacher/staff, access to mental health, and collaboration with other governmental entities, parents and community stakeholders. (4) The Board must be able to specifically identify, explain and approve a budget that will support the Board's goals and desired student outcomes. (5) The Board must keep applying pressure in Raleigh and educating the public regarding the General Assembly's role in education. (Leandro funding; teaching funding, etc.)
What should the board do to improve safety for students and employees?The Board must make sure that there is adequate funding associated with (1) facilities, ensuring that the buildings are physically secure; (2) mental health funding - ensuring appropriate funding for school counselors and psychologists; (3) training for teachers, administrators and staff - ensuring appropriate funding is associated with training to recognize children who may need mental health support; (4) collaboration - ensuring Board/CMS partnership with the City's violence disrupter program, community organizations in order to be aware of and engage in collaborative violence prevention methods to lessen issues with community problems that enter schools; and (5) input - seek input from students, teachers/staff and community regarding the best ways they believe improvements can be to ensure a safe school.
Are there additional issues, themes or characteristics that you see as central in your campaign?It is essential that the Board have a focus on student achievement, support for teachers and staff; access to mental health; and collaboration with other governmental entities, parents, corporate and community stakeholders. The Board must also be transparent and accountable to the community. This is a particularly significant time for the Board because there must be a laser focus on student achievement; a transformative, qualified long-term Superintendent must be hired; and it's time for the community to trust the Board and CMS again. This will require new leadership.
OccupationRetired CMS District Specialist/School Counselor
Involvement with the school district (employment, kids in the system, volunteer, appointed or elected roles):Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools System as a District MTSS Specialist, Licensed School Counselor K-12, CMS High School Graduation Coach, CMS After-school Site Coordinator, and CMS Instructional Assistant. I have served as Vice President of PTA for Garinger HS, Served as PTA co-chair of a Committee at Elizabeth Traditional Elementary School.
Political experience:Registered Voter
Education and/or political advocacy groups you’re affiliated with:Graduated from West Mecklenburg High School, BA degree in Psychology from North Carolina Central University, master's degree in Religion in Christian Leadership from Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, and a master’s degree in Education from The University of The Southwest, Hobbs, New Mexico, in School Counseling and School Administration.
Other relevant experience:Executive Director of GPM Inc. nonprofit, Director of 21st Century Community Learning Center, and Qualified Mental Health Professional
What actions should the school board take to improve outcomes for students and schools that are performing below expectations?The school board must establish clear and concise goals and guardrails to increase the reading skills of 3rd- grade students ( levels 1's and 2's) who are not proficient. In addition, the boards need to identify through researched early interventions for kindergarten students entering CMS schools without the necessary skills to support them in becoming academically successful.
What are the district’s most significant funding needs, and what should the board do to meet them?The board's most significant funding needs are revenues to provide competitive salaries for teachers, and equity and equality resources for our low performing schools.
How would you rate current leadership of the district (board and superintendent)? What changes would you propose?I would rate them as doing a fair job, but there need to be board members who have experience working as an educator within CMS. We also need board members with experience supporting students' social-emotional needs and best practices in delivering academic and behavioral interventions.
What should the board do to improve safety for students and employees?The board needs to hire a superintendent who understand how to organize and create a well-qualified safety team with experience. Safety levels implemented in every school based upon individual school design, securing points of entry, metal detectors, and resource officers in all schools.
Are there additional issues, themes or characteristics that you see as central in your campaign?I bring experience from the role of a licensed school counselor and a retired Multi-tiered System of Support Specialist with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools System. As a result, I know how to advocate for a robust Multi-tiered System of Support framework (MTSS)in all CMS schools. This best practice framework will allow students needing academic or behavioral interventions to receive a standard treatment protocol that will increase learning and behavioral deficiencies. Before returning to CMS, I worked as an Executive Director of GPM Inc, a 501 C3 agency, and director of a 21st Century Community Learning Center funded by the NC Department of Education. My experience working and collaborating with community partners brought value to connecting resources and services for families and children.
Involvement with the school district (employment, kids in the system, volunteer, appointed or elected roles):I am an advocate for closing achievement gaps between Black and White students.
My work as a pastor has involved supporting schools in my community. My congregation has partnered with two schools where we provide direct and broad-based support to families. The principal or guidance counselor will notify our team of any outstanding needs that a student or family may have. This includes actions such as supporting families in transitional housing and providing clothing and toiletries for other students and families. Our members are employed by CMS in various capacities and they help us determine need and appropriate responses.
Additionally, I fully intend to enroll my 4 year old son in CMS next year.
Education and/or political advocacy groups you’re affiliated with:
Other relevant experience:
What actions should the school board take to improve outcomes for students and schools that are performing below expectations?Students who have less at home need more resources at school. Local governing agencies must work collaboratively to meet students needs both at home and at school. As noted by WestEd researchers, funding reductions that have persisted since 2008 are tied to widening achievement gaps.
What are the district’s most significant funding needs, and what should the board do to meet them?My vision for public schools in the our district is aligned with the WestEd’s research-based recommendations for how North Carolina will meet it obligation to provide every child with a sound basic education. First, I envision every child entering K-12 prepared with a high-quality Pre-K education. Also, I envision the following recommendations:A system of teacher development and recruitment that ensures each classroom is staffed with a high-quality teacher who is supported with early and ongoing professional learning and provided competitive pay.A system of principal development and recruitment that ensures each school is led by a high-quality principal who is supported with ongoing professional learning and provided competitive pay.An assistance and turnaround function that provides necessary support to low-performing schools.
I realize that we have a long way to go at the state-level, but I believe that an innovative and responsive School Board working in cooperation with educators can take some preliminary steps with the current resources. Also, there I will work with the School Board to restore a culture of high expectations for students—which costs $0.
How would you rate current leadership of the district (board and superintendent)? What changes would you propose?
The current leadership has failed students. I will work to build relationships with board members with whom I have political or pedagogical differences, while maintaining my commitment to student-centered leadership and a laser focus on student achievement in the broadest sense.
What should the board do to improve safety for students and employees?Invest in evidence-based solutions that go beyond visual representations of safety to create safer learning environments.
Are there additional issues, themes or characteristics that you see as central in your campaign?Closing the achievement gap