Charlotte, NC

Cloudy Thursday in Charlotte: Problems persist at CMS, commissioner criticized for calls and more

Collin Cunningham

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Happy Thursday morning, QCR readers! It is April 21, and hopefully readers can keep their heads up as clouds descend upon Charlotte and remain hovering above the Queen City through today's high of 76 and tonight's low of 54.

Speaking of remaining, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools stays in the headlines today after a second district high school self-forfeited its most recent football season and a Mallard Creek Elementary School connected with a car at a bus stop on Wednesday. A North Carolina judge asked a Mecklenburg County commissioner to stop phoning another magistrate and we preview Charlotte BOOM, an experimental arts festival returning to the Queen City this weekend.

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1. Continued controversy at CMS: West Charlotte HS forfeits full football season, 2nd grader hits car at bus stop

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West Charlotte HS will soon see its football team's 2021-22 record flip from 7-4 to 0-11 over player ineligibility.(West Charlotte High School/Facebook)

After the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board of education voted 7-2 to fire Superintendent Earnest Winston on Tuesday, the Queen City's largest school district remains in the news for related and unrelated matters. Some publications are turning to the road ahead for the schools and Hugh Hattabaugh, who will return as interim superintendent for at least one year on Monday, the decision's possible impact on the local financial landscape and the community's response.

Further full season forfeit: We reported on April 1 that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' Myers Park High School had forfeited the three football games its team had won due to improper paperwork, and on Wednesday the district's West Charlotte High School announced it would toss its team's stock of seven wins aiong similar lines.

Again violating rules set by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, a district spokesperson said staff at West Charlotte HS recently learned that a player who competed on the team last season had been ineligible because their family lived outside of the school zone. In response, the wins will join the school's four defeats in the "L" column and the building will fork over $250 in penalties on top of funds earned in its 34-10 playoff win against Gaston County Schools' Stuart Cramer High School.

Mallard Creek student slams car at bus stop: A second-grade student of CMS' Mallard Creek Elementary School made contact with a car while waiting for a bus, but the child was not struck in a hit-and-run, as WCNC and other outlets initially reported. Instead, the primary school student was uninjured after running into a parked car of their own accord at the corner of Caroline Lilly Lane and Mallard Circle, roughly 4 miles from the school.

The driver of the student-smacked car left the scene soon after and police are investigating the incident as a traffic accident. The student, while uninjured, went to a nearby hospital, per Queen City News.

2. Mecklenburg commissioners corner: NC judge asks county official to stop contacting judge, commissioners pour money into child care subsidies and EMT bonuses

Also making headlines for multiple reasons this week was the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners, which approved a $10 million expenditure to cheapen child care services and a series of bonus payments for emergency medical technicians and paramedics up to $5,000. But the 10-member BOCC also garnered controversy from Vilma Leake, who received an order from the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts to cease calls to District Court Judge Rex Marvel.

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Mecklenburg County Commissioner VIlma Leake is a former motivational speaker who has served on the board since 2008.(Courtesy of Mecklenburg County)

Leake calls: According to the letter addressed to Leake, the District 2 representative — a Democrat — has dialed Marvel's number seven times since placing an initial call on March 22. At the time, Leake had phoned to ask about a pending child welfare case, but the judge told her he could not provide any information.

Dated March 30, the letter says the North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct forbids "ex parte" communications, meaning judges cannot share the status of ongoing or pending cases with others. In response, Leake said the allegations against her are lies and that she only called Marvel once at a constituent's request.

$10M to aid 700 Meck. Co. children: As presented at the commissioners' meeting on Tuesday, county leaders hope to bring 700 new youths into its child care continuum by entering into a $10.5 million partnership with Child Care Resources Inc. The investment would expand the county's average annual $20.7 million child care subsidy payments by more than half, using extra room created in the budget by the American Rescue Plan.

$700K to EMS: Also benefitting from the COVID-19 relief will be paramedics, emergency medical technicians, dispatch workers and other technicians employed by Medic, the county's EMS agency, after commissioners authorized a $700,000 payment for staff bonuses on Tuesday. Of those employees, full-timers will get a $5,000 annual retention incentive while part-time workers will see $2,500 across a pair of payments slated for 2022 and 2023.

Medic was not among an initial round of 40 county organizations to receive $59 million from the commissioners in March, WSOC reported separately. Between January and March, WCNC reported that eight ambulances and 16 medical personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency assisted Medic amid staff shortages.

3. Bring on the BOOM: Charlotte art festival settles on new spot this weekend

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Returning after a two-year hiatus, the fifth edition of BOOM Charlotte features art displays, live performances and more at Camp North End.(Courtesy of BOOM Charlotte)

After rescheduling their regional event in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizers behind BOOM Charlotte are ready to welcome visitors to their fifth festival this weekend. Trekking almost five miles west of its usual haunting grounds at Plaza Midwood, this year's two-day festival occurs in the confines of Camp North End, bordered by Statesville, Woodward and Sylvania Avenues as well as North Graham Street to the east.

Calling BOOM "one of the largest local arts gathering[s] in Charlotte," event co-founder and executive director Manoj Kesavan told The Charlotte Observer that over 60 events are on the docket for this year between 6 and 10 p.m. on Friday and noon and 10 p.m. on Saturday. All outdoor events are free, but readers can buy tickets to individual indoor displays for $10 or grab a $50 weekend pass on this page.

Here are a few bombastic showcases slated for BOOM:

Friday, April 22:

One of Boom's major tentpoles is poetry, and Charlotte's laureates will be well represented at the festival's SPEAK Showcase and Boileryard stages on Friday. Multimedia maestro Kathleen Finch will share words and photos with her "Your Voice" exhibition from 6 to 7 p.m. before a rerun at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. Charlotte residents and poetry power couple Kia Flow and Jerm747 take the stage as "Flowtainment LLC" at the same times.

Hidden within an antique armoire, North Carolina bard Chris Vitiello will write personalized poetry to guests who approach his poetry cabinet at the Boileyard between 6 and 9 p.m. Charlotte nonprofit Guerilla Poets will bring its nonchalant nomenclature to the same stage from 7 to 7:35 p.m.

Saturday, April 23:

A Charlotte-based interpretive dance group, Moving Spirits will take BOOM attendees on a multicultural journey through movement at the Camp North End Event Space at 1:30 and 7 p.m. on Saturday. Other chances to move come courtesy of TwinNation and the duo of Alexandria Nunwiler and Ashlea Sovetts.

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I cover the city of Charlotte, North Carolina for NewsBreak's Creator Program. Check back often for daily headline roundups to learn what's happening in the Queen City!

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