Politics & Government

George Battle says school board member is trying to undermine him

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools general counsel George Battle III accused a board member Tuesday of waging a campaign to undermine him.

Battle said board member Eric Davis continues to call his professionalism into question over how he handled the investigation into former Superintendent Heath Morrison. He also said an unfair “caricature” has emerged of him as an out-of-control lawyer.

Davis has called publicly for an outside attorney to review how CMS handled allegations that Morrison bullied staff members and misled the board on the costs of a new school on UNC Charlotte’s campus.

Former Charlotte City Council member Lynn Wheeler, who spoke alongside Battle on Tuesday at the Observer’s office, said Davis has been going to influential people in the city to ask them to criticize Battle.

“He’s doing everything he can to undermine George, and it’s vitriolic,” Wheeler said.

The interview did not shed much new light on what led to the investigation or what other information Battle gathered. Battle declined to comment on many aspects of the situation, including what specifically tipped it off, what damage to the district he felt Morrison could cause, or why the investigation proceeded so quickly.

In October, Battle investigated the allegations into Morrison and recommended that the school board fire Morrison. Within a few days, Morrison offered his resignation.

Since then, Davis has been vocal with his concerns about how the situation was handled.

Davis said Tuesday that he has reached out to influential people in Charlotte, but not to undermine Battle.

Davis: It’s not personal

In a December board meeting, Davis said he hoped the board would discuss what the district could learn from Morrison’s departure. Davis has since asked people to nudge the school board toward discussing it at an upcoming board meeting.

“Sure, I’ve asked people if they would consider weighing in,” Davis said. “None of what I’ve done has been personally directed at George. That’s where we’re on a very different planet.”

He said he spoke to CEO Bob Morgan and Senior Vice President Natalie English at the Charlotte Chamber, among others. Morgan and English declined to comment.

Davis said he did not consider there to be a “dispute” between himself and Battle.

“For me, it’s not a personal issue between me and Mr. Battle, despite his efforts to make it one,” Davis said.

The exchange renews tension between Battle and Davis that surfaced in November. In an email to board members, Battle claimed Davis was spreading the “lie” that Battle had a vendetta against Morrison.

Battle again defended his handling of the investigation in Tuesday’s interview.

He presented copies of his job description, which includes supervising investigations and preventing unnecessary conflict and litigation.

He also cited rules of ethics for lawyers, which require attorneys to act if they believe something could happen that would result in harm to the organization they work for.

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