Dunlap Doubles Down; Supt. Winston Stays Silent As Budget Back And Forth Continues

CHARLOTTE, NC – Mecklenburg County Commission Chairman George Dunlap is standing by his words after taking aim at Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and Superintendent Earnest Winston during a forum on the county budget.

Among other things, Dunlap said Supt. Winston, “ worked his way around. He drove for Peter Gorman. He became the chief of staff for the former superintendent and when nobody else would come to CMS, they made him Superintendent.”

Dunlap made the comments while speaking during a virtual form with the Charlotte Black Political Caucus.

The escalation of words comes after county commissioners proposed a budget that withholds tens of millions of dollars from CMS until a plan to close the achievement gap is put forward.

“In my opinion, the school board is committing educational suicide to the students of CMS,” said Dunlap on Monday.

“How many years should students be in a failing system before someone from leadership makes changes,” he continued.

Dunlap says he is frustrated with the results he’s seen from CMS the last five years. He says achievement goals were set and never met.

“So we hold people accountable,” said Dunlap.

The county budget as proposed, withholds 56 million dollars from what CMS asked for. That money would be released when a plan is in place to improve performance at 42 schools and tighten the graduation rates.

“I think it’s reasonable to say that you present us a plan and there will not be a need to withhold money,” said Dunlap.

Dunlap took aim at CMS board members and leadership saying there have been several missteps.

“It’s not personal. Everybody thinks Winston is a nice guy. But I question his credentials,” explained Dunlap.

Supt. Winston isn’t commenting on Dunlap’s remarks, but school board Chair Elyse Dashew released the following statement:

We are appalled by the personal attack on Superintendent Earnest Winston by George Dunlap, the chair of the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners, at the May 16 meeting of the Black Political Caucus. The Board of County Commissioners does not — by North Carolina statutes — function as an oversight board for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. Thus, Mr. Dunlap’s remarks are not relevant. However, this kind of personal vindictiveness and vitriol has no place in the public discussion for two important reasons.

First, it is important that we as adults in public service model behavior that our children can aspire to match. Personal attacks of the kind Mr. Dunlap made do not in any way meet that standard. Nor do such personal attacks move us forward on our goal of improving student outcomes in our schools — a shared goal of the members of the Board of Education, Superintendent Winston, and CMS staff.

Secondly, these comments by Commissioner Dunlap are yet another political distraction by the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners. We owe our children more than political jabs and personal vitriol. The racist systems we are working to change have been in place for more than a century, and students have paid the price for that. We are committed to changing those systems and giving all students the opportunity to succeed. It will happen sooner if the county commission works with us, rather than against us.

Although we are disappointed by Mr. Dunlap’s attempted character assassination of our superintendent, we are not disheartened. The work we are doing is too important for us to lose focus on the goal of successful student outcomes and we will continue the work that will bring equity to our schools and to our students.