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.
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.