McClintock Middle School Principal Paul Williams, viewed as one of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ rising stars, has been “relieved of his duties,” according to a notice sent to McClintock families Friday.
The message from Tara Sullivan, the administrator who oversees McClintock, says she wants to advise families of “a situation at McClintock,” but says that “details of the situation are a personnel matter and cannot be shared. However, it is important for you to know that no children are involved in the matter.”
CMS spokeswoman Renee McCoy said Williams was suspended with pay as of April 6 pending the outcome of an investigation, but said the district would not disclose specifics. The note to parents said the district is “working quickly to identify a highly qualified and caring interim principal.”
I would love to return to McClintock. This is just ridiculous.
McClintock Principal Paul Williams
Williams said Friday afternoon that the investigation stems from a complaint by someone on his staff that he “behaved inappropriately” and was “playing favorites.” He said he will meet with Superintendent Ann Clark next week and hopes to return to McClintock.
“The charges are ridiculous,” Williams said. “My parents and students and teachers absolutely love me. There are some who don’t like me because I hold them accountable for their jobs.”
We realize this information is unexpected and may be unsettling. Please know that maintaining the quality teaching and learning environment at McClintock is our highest priority.
CMS administrator Tara Sullivan
McClintock, a high-poverty middle school in southeast Charlotte, is one of the district’s most visible schools. As CMS grapples with poverty, diversity and academic achievement, the school has built a strong partnership with Christ Lutheran Church, developed an award-winning robotics program and recently added a science and engineering magnet program. Though its test scores remain low, many cite the school as an example of creative approaches to entice middle-class families back to neighborhood schools.
Williams, in his fourth year as McClintock principal, is frequently given credit for helping restore confidence in McClintock. His high energy level, which has included dressing in a kilt as the Mighty Scot mascot, made him prominent in the district. During one CMS principals’ meeting, he led morale-building cheers when a power outage disrupted a presentation.
In December 2013, the Observer profiled him as one of the region’s emerging leaders, citing his role in then-Superintendent Heath Morrison’s push to get principals, families and communities to work together on school improvement.
Williams inherited the Christ Lutheran partnership, know as McPIE, or McClintock Partners in Education. It draws dozens of volunteers and hundreds of families to the school on a regular basis for dinner and educational activities. In 2013, Christ Lutheran Outreach Director Amy Daniels described Williams as energetic and daring, adding that “our volunteers love him.”
In September 2015, a study by UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute credited the partnership with keeping McClintock alive and vibrant during a time when CMS had closed other high-poverty schools with low test scores.
North Carolina law makes details of public employees’ personnel files confidential, with exceptions spelled out for such things as name, title and salary. The law requires disclosure of “date and type of each dismissal, suspension, or demotion for disciplinary reasons,” but reasons for the action become public only if the employee is dismissed.
Until Friday, McClintock families had been told nothing about Williams’ absence. Williams said Friday he is frustrated because the notice makes it appear he is being fired. He said he has not been punished or asked to resign.
“I am committed to CMS and hoping for a positive result,” he said, adding that he is “definitely devastated by all this.”