CMS indefinitely suspends Superintendent Wilcox

Image 1 of 2

The Superintendent of the Charlotte Mecklenburg School system has been suspended, according to an official release on Monday.

Dr. Clayton Wilcox was suspended with pay by the CMS Board of Education, comprised of nine members, and the suspension goes into effect immediately. Wilcox is about halfway through his four-year contract with the district. 

"Anything pertaining to personnel we are not at liberty to discuss, so we want to make sure we adhere to that and are following our process when it comes to any employee," Board Chair Mary McCray said

She did not respond to FOX 46's calls. 


The Board says CMS Chief Engagement Officer and Ombudsman Earnest Winston will serve as Acting Superintendent for the district.

"CMS remains focused on the priorities that matter most," they said in a statement. 

During Wilcox’s tenure there have been questions about school security and issues over background checks for volunteers.

CMS began doing random wand checks at high schools following a deadly shooting last October inside butler high school.


And FOX 46 uncovered last April that one of CMS's former volunteers Ricardo Mata, who is now charged with sex crimes against children, was in the United States illegally, according to ICE.

Following Mata’s arrest, Wilcox announced a new task force to review policies and background checks on volunteers. 


An 'open letter' from the Board was released around 4 p.m. on Monday. You can read the full statement below. 

CMS students, families, staff and community members,

Governance and stewardship of CMS executive leadership is a key function of the Board of Education and a responsibility entrusted to us by the public on behalf of over 147,000 students, their families, and 19,000 employees across 175 schools and facilities.

Guided by those responsibilities, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education announced the suspension of Superintendent Clayton Wilcox today, July 15, 2019. Under existing CMS policies, Dr. Wilcox will continue to receive his salary while suspended. During this time, CMS Chief Engagement Officer and Ombudsman Earnest Winston will serve as Acting Superintendent for our school district. Because this is a personnel matter, the Board cannot provide further details at this time.

A school district is a community of people who are all dedicated to one thing above all – educating and supporting our students to prepare them for the futures they can achieve and deserve.

Our work together for our students will continue uninterrupted, and together, we will succeed.

Students, we are preparing every day for the start of the 2019-2020 school year and a strong year of teaching and learning in safe, healthy and supportive schools. We are focused on your well-being in every way possible. We will keep moving forward to help each of you succeed to your highest potential and to achieve your dreams.

Families, our shared goal across the district is to maintain close focus on giving your students every opportunity available and to work tirelessly to support them.

CMS colleagues and staff, we pledge our continuing support as leaders to our shared efforts. We each have an important part to play in making sure we do our absolute best for our students no matter our job title, role or position.

In the days and weeks ahead, we will move forward together in trust and we will keep our focus on what matters most – each and every CMS student.


The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education

Wilcox was hired in December 2016 by way of the Washington County School system in Maryland, where he was Superintendent in 2011, according to his CMS website biography.

Wilcox was Superintendent in Pinellas County, Florida from 2004-2008. He served as Superintendent of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System in Louisiana from 1999-2004.

A native of Iowa, he began his career in the classroom as a teacher in Iowa and Illinois, eventually becoming an Assistant Principal.

Wilcox attended the University of Northern Iowa.