Friday, June 21, 2013

Guards for superintendents, family

The contract for newly-hired Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrill has a lot of education reporters wondering how scary things are in North Carolina.

“In the event of public controversy or threat to the Superintendent or his immediate family arising from the Superintendent’s position with the school system,  if the board or Superintendent ever deems it necessary for the protection of the Superintendent or his immediate family,  the Board will provide security measures that it deems reasonable and appropriate to enhance the safety of the Superintendent and/or his immediate family," it says.

My colleague at the News & Observer, Keung Hui, sent out a query to the Education Writers Association listserve asking if anyone had heard of this kind of thing.  The overwhelming response was incredulity.

I recall being shocked when Peter Gorman got a similar clause added to his contract with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in 2009.  I dashed over to find out who was threatening him and/or his family and when we could expect to see a contingent of guards escorting him. He and his spokeswoman,  Nora Carr,  assured me there was no problem.  Carr said Gorman had gotten the idea from his former deputy,  Mo Green,  who had just been hired as Guilford County superintendent and had a security clause.  "I think in this day and age it's a wise precaution,"  Carr (who is now Green's chief of staff)  said at the time.

It's tempting to crack wise about violent Carolinians,  and lord knows Wake County has its share of controversy these days.  But best I can tell,  it's just one of those  "cover your bases" things that lawyers throw in during contract negotiations (Green happens to be a lawyer, who started his education career at the attorney for CMS).  Merrill has the same provision in his contract with Virginia Beach schools and has never used it in his seven years with that district, Hui reports.  A Google search turned up examples of similar contract phrasing for superintendents hired in Pennsylvania and Texas in recent years.

Heath Morrison,  who took Gorman's place,  doesn't have a security provision. "It is not something I lifted up,"  he said when I asked.


Wiley Coyote said...

In today's world, it seems to be a reasonable negotiated job benefit for someone in that position...

Anonymous said...

I dont think Morrison needs the clause as he is on a short contract. When he took the "big league job" He knew then he was over his head. He is no Vilma Leake , but he could help her with her english a little. Then maybe we could understand her jibberish!

Anonymous said...

Very nice to see that Wake County can host the new super with a cocktail party. Who butters their budget?

Anonymous said...

How about NOT taking the job if it comes with such dangerous risks? If the job is truly this risky then what happens to your front line troops called "teachers?" Do they get security as well?

Anonymous said...

Pete Gorman was hired to dismantle one of North Carolinas largest school systems. He needed security!

BolynMcClung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BolynMcClung said...

TO: ANON 10:43

You're absolutely wrong.

Dr. Gorman was hired to be a CEO-like superintendent. His charge was to decentralize the office; which he did by opening 7 zone offices. Those were closed, at great cost, due to the Great Recession.

The intent of the 2005 CMS Task Force, which made most of the recommendations that influenced the first years of the Gorman administration, was to solidify CMS.

I know of one instance where security for the Superintendent would have been a good idea. The NAACP stupidly and without results picketed his home.

But, CMSPD is one of the worst ideas. Too many reasons to enumerate. But the top reason is that a police department needs a level above it that understands criminal law. That would be a district attorney; not school superintendents who are afraid to be in the same room as a paddle.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

CMSPD - awful Pete got through the legislature (unlike hb546, right?)

Task Forces...Bolyn, really? You think they informed Pete; no, like most of the groups that met they were steered towards the desired ends. Happened in teacher groups as well as others too.

These task forces will fare no better...simple Broad tactic to make it seem like people have input. Sorry, don't buy it.

Personally, I thought your nose was up Tim's backside rather than Pete's...

Did the NAACP step onto Pete's property? No. Did they threaten violence? No. So why need security? If there was a problem - CALL CMPD (or the sheriff) like everyone else. Sure would save our school district to the tune of MILLIONS of dollars. (go ahead, look it up on the database, then factor in benefits, equipment, cars, gas, etc.) MILLIONS!

That's why it's a bad idea.

Imagine, if the CMSPD were not around Pete may have found $6 million instead of the $2 million that was "left over" when he decided to have CMS write all sorts of new PFP tests.

Imagine what non-educational stuff he could have done with that money...

Anonymous said...

Bolyn , I think Peter Gorman was hired to tbe the Superintendent for CMS Schools. I frankly don't think the "Great Recession " had anything to do with why he left his position. A number of factors contributed to why he left CMS that was very apparent to many. Keith W. Hurley