Former Mecklenburg County DSS Director Mary Wilson filed paperwork Tuesday contesting her recent termination as newly released emails revealed more details about her tumultuous four-year tenure.
Wilson appealed her dismissal to the countys human resources office nearly two weeks after County Manager Harry Jones announced her firing. Although a three-person employee panel will consider evidence from both sides and make an recommendation, Jones has the final say.
County officials have never publicly said why Wilson was terminated, but emails obtained by the Observer through an open-records request show Wilsons bosses have been dissatisfied with her work dating back to at least early 2011.
In one email dated Sept. 5, Wilson describes a memo she received from County General Manager Michelle Lancaster-Sandlin.
You have been on a performance improvement plan since 2011 and you have not met the expectations set out in it, the email says Lancaster-Sandlin wrote.
Another email Wilson sent to county administrators, dated Sept. 6, says she was told she needs improvement during a fiscal year 2009 performance evaluation.
On Tuesday, county spokesman Danny Diehl said county administration would make no comment on Wilsons dismissal until after her appeal hearing.
Jones and Wilson could not be reached for comment.
Wilson publicly criticized her dismissal last week, sending a letter to commissioners that said her termination was unfair, unjust and smacks of intimidation aimed at me and my staff.
At the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Wilson led the countys largest agency, with a $161 million budget and roughly 1,100 employees. DSS oversees an array of programs for the needy, including Medicaid, food stamps and foster care.
Jones recommended hiring Wilson in 2008 and often publicly defended her when critics raised questions about alleged misspending, racial discrimination in hiring and cronyism.
But on Jan. 30, 2011, Lancaster-Sandlin sent Wilson a memo outlining a performance improvement plan, according to one email.
It is expected that you will meet these expectations within 90 days from today, and by that time these deficiencies will be completely corrected, the email says Lancaster-Sandlin wrote.
In Wilsons email to county administrators, dated Sept. 5, she complains that county officials never held a follow-up meeting in April to discuss her performance.
During my follow-up conversation with Michelle she indicated every thing is going fine and the full Executive Team meeting did not occur, the email reads. Im not sure how this constitutes being on a performance improvement plan since January 2011.