CMS's lawyer is given extension to get license

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board has given its lawyer eight more months to earn a license to practice law in North Carolina, and held up her performance bonus until she does so.

Regina Bartholomew, chief counsel for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, was hired from New Orleans in July 2007. Her two-year contract called for her to be licensed in North Carolina by September 2008. But she did not take the July bar exam, blaming a staff vacancy that cut into her study time.

Her next chance will be in February 2009, and results generally take about six weeks. The board voted late Tuesday night, after a closed-door discussion, to give her until April 30 to become licensed or face firing.

Bartholomew earns $140,000 a year and is eligible for an annual performance bonus of up to 10 percent of that. The board voted Tuesday to give her 5 percent, or $7,000, payable only if she earns her N.C. license.

Bartholomew is still licensed to practice in Louisiana, a state with laws very different from North Carolina and most other states, legal experts say.

Board members Ken Gjertsen, Molly Griffin and Vilma Leake will work with Bartholomew to craft goals on which she'll be evaluated next year, when her contract is up for renewal.