Another superintendent of a large North Carolina school district is facing allegations of creating a hostile work environment.
The Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison abruptly announced he was leaving after the CMS legal department led an investigation into cost overruns in construction projects and allegations that Morrison bullied staff members. The term "culture of fear" was mentioned by CMS school employees.
Morrison said in the article that he was not aware of any report about his conduct.
If the "culture of fear" talk sounds familiar, it should be. Wake County school board members had used the same words in 2012 as one of the reasons to explain why they had fired Superintendent Tony Tata.
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For instance, then-Wake school board chairman Kevin Hill said that he had been increasingly hearing from school staff members that Tata's leadership style didn't allow them to voice disagreements.
"They're afraid to speak up, fearing they may be the next to be asked to leave the school system," Hill said.
After his firing, Tata acknowledged his direct leadership style in a column in The News & Observer in which he wrote, "I could not justify many years of debates over issues while every day our most vulnerable children languished."
Wake school board members have praised Superintendent Jim Merrill for his leadership style.
"I am very excited and appreciative of the hard work and leadership our superintendent provides to us daily and the way that he empowers other people to become better than they are today and to lead us as a district," school board member Bill Fletcher said when Merrill's contract was extended last month.
CMS Deputy Superintendent Ann Clark is assuming the superintendent duties from Morrison on Thursday.
Clark was one of three finalists to replace Tata when Merrill was hired in 2013. Clark had fallen one vote short of getting the job during the Wake board's closed-session discussions.