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CHARLOTTE, NC:::CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS

CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG SCHOOL DISTRICT - TIMELINE

July 1960: The school districts of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County merge to form one district: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS).
Source: Education Week 2/18/2004

January 1965: Ten black families, including lead plaintiffs Vera and Darius Swann, sue the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district to obligate it to desegregate its schools. The case, known as Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, leads to the 1971 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows school systems nationwide to use mandatory busing and other race-based efforts to desegregate public schools.
Source: Education Week 2/18/2004

April 1969: U.S. District Judge James B. McMillan orders the district to draw up a plan for the desegregation of the student population. His decision states, “the Board is free to consider all known ways of desegregation, including busing.” McMillan directs the school board to submit by May 15, 1969, a positive plan for effective desegregation to be completed by the fall of 1970.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/narrative.asp

September 1970: The ruling takes effect and busing begins. With the district’s student assignment plan, suburban children are bused to inner city schools and inner city children are bused to the suburbs in order to integrate schools.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/narrative.asp

April 1971: The Supreme Court unanimously rules that federal courts may order busing of students as part of desegregation plans (Swann v. Charlotte- Mecklenburg [N.C.] Public Schools).
Source: Education Week 2/18/2004

1973: Roland Jones is hired as superintendent. Under his leadership, the central office is restructured and principals are empowered to make decisions and lead from the school level.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/narrative.asp

August 1976: Jones is dismissed from his position. An interim management team is selected to lead the district.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/narrative.asp

1977: Jay Robinson is named superintendent. Robinson was committed to making CMS an integrated school system. He also worked hard to adequately prepare teachers for the classroom; his Career Development Plan became a well-known professional development program in the state of North Carolina.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/narrative.asp

1987: Peter Relic is hired as superintendent. He was known for his rapport with teachers and the support he provided to the classroom.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/narrative.asp

1991: With Relic’s departure, the school board hires John Murphy to take his place. Murphy began a new magnet school program designed to match students’ interests and learning styles with particular themes. The program was also designed to replace the district’s 22-year-old strategy of paired schools and cross-town busing to insure desegregation. The magnet school program accepts students through an application lottery process, with acceptance based on a 60:40 race quota.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/history.asp; http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/narrative.asp

1995: North Carolina initiates an aggressive effort of school improvement with legislative approval of the ABCs of Public Education, the state's first school-based accountability model. The ABCs differ from previous efforts by focusing at the school level, providing incentive bonuses to educators in schools that excel and assigning assistance teams to the lowest performing schools.
Source: http://www.ncpublicschools.org/abcs/03-04/pressrelease.html

1996: Eric J. Smith is hired as superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools with John Murphy’s departure. After more than 20 years of busing, Smith notes that disparities among Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools still persist, from the condition of facilities to the quality of teachers. Most black students — whether they attend desegregated schools or not — are not making the grade. Under Smith a strong focus is placed on increasing student achievement, aligning the curriculum with the state standards, and providing rigorous academic courses for all students.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/history.asp; http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/narrative.asp

Mid to late 1990s: Smith and his team analyze the situation in the district, replacing site-based management with more centralized control. To provide clarity and consistency in instruction, the district develops pacing guides and model lesson plans for teachers based on the state curriculum. Mini-assessments – given to students every 7-8 days – increase the rigor of teaching and guide decisions around improvement strategies.
Source: Eric Smith presentation at seminar 1/4/05

September 1997: William Capacchione, a white parent, sues the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, claiming its race-based admission policy is unconstitutional after his daughter is denied entry to a magnet school where places were available for non-white students.
Source: Education Week 2/18/2004

March 1998: In the wake of the Capacchione case, U.S. District Judge Robert D. Potter reactivates the Swann case. White parents join the challenge to the student-assignment policies; two black families join the Swann plaintiffs to try to maintain desegregation efforts.
Source: Education Week 2/18/2004

Late 1990s to early 2000: The district sees a noticeable increase in reading scores after the first few years of using pacing guides in the classroom. When scores level out, the central office decides to adopt a phonics-based literacy curriculum for all elementary schools.
Source: Eric Smith presentation at seminar 1/4/05

1999: The district report “Achieving the CMS Vision: Equity and Student Success” is issued, providing an itemized plan to close the achievement gap between minority and white students. Smith sets four goals for the system to be reached by 2001 that concentrate on academic achievement, a safe and orderly environment, community collaboration and efficient and effective support operations.
Source: Education Week 11/12/2003

September 1999: Judge Potter declares the Charlotte system “unitary” and no longer segregated. He orders the district to end its race-based student assignment plan, mandating that a new student assignment plan be in place for the 2000-2001 school year. The school board votes to appeal the ruling and two months later the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia grants a stay of Potter’s ruling, allowing the school board to delay implementing a new student assignment plan until the 2001-2002 school year.
Source: Education Week 2/18/2004; http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/narrative.asp

November 2000: A year later, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the school district is not unitary in some areas such as facilities, student assignment, student achievement and transportation, sending the district back to the lower court for reconsideration. Areas such as faculty, staff, extracurricular activities and student discipline are considered unitary.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/narrative.asp

2001: The district develops their Balance Scorecard as a management tool outlining specific objectives, measures and targets to reach on an annual basis in order to meet their goals for 2005.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/goals/equityScorecard/introduction.pdf (PDF - Adobe Reader Required)

2001: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district is recognized by the Council of the Great City Schools as one of four top urban school districts for increasing scores in reading and math, and closing the achievement gap. The Council also names Eric Smith as the country's top urban educator. Test scores continue to rise with 82% of all fifth grade students on grade level in reading; from 1995 to 2001, the number of African-American students on grade level in reading more than doubled, increasing from 35% to 70%; and the district has no low performing schools under the state’s accountability system.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/narrative.asp

September 2001: A full panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Virginia, affirms the lower-court ruling that the district has achieved unitary status. The school board votes not to appeal the ruling; six months earlier the board had approved a resolution that addressed equity with a focus on providing choice for all students in the 2002-2003 school year.
Source: Education Week 2/18/2004; http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/history.asp

April 2002: The Supreme Court declines to review the Charlotte case after petitions are filed by the plaintiffs and the other parties. This action let stand the Fourth Circuit Court’s decision that the district had achieved “unitary status.” It closed the chapter on the district’s nationally recognized desegregation case. This announcement meant that the district would end forced busing and implement their new family choice plan in 2002-2003.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/narrative.asp

May 2002: Eric Smith resigns to take a position as superintendent of Anne Arundel County Schools in Maryland. Under his leadership the district showed tremendous improvement, posting its highest gains to-date on the state standards and accountability program with 44 schools earning either the prestigious “School of Excellence” or “School of Distinction” designation. Improvement occurred not only in the lower grades; more than 50% of the district’s seniors took at least one Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate course in 2001-2002.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/narrative.asp

July 2002: James Pughsley, former deputy superintendent of CMS, steps up as superintendent. Pughsley is committed to academic success for all students and providing rigorous and challenging courses using the strategies developed under Smith’s leadership. The district continues to focus on their Goals 2005, using the Balanced Scorecard to achieve those goals.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/narrative.asp

July 2002: CMS launches a plan called the “A+ Initiative” to help close the achievement gap for all student groups. The initiative provides additional resources to the schools where children need more individual attention and extra support. It also includes clearly defined goals for low performing schools, a structured system for assessment and accountability, a rigorous curriculum, an emphasis on quality instruction, and the opportunity for tutorial instruction.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/pdf/A%20Initiative.pdf (PDF - Adobe Reader Required)

August 2002: Free from the federal desegregation order, students begin classes in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district under a race neutral, colorblind plan for student assignment. The plan gives parents a choice of schools and provides all families with spots in their "neighborhood schools" if they want it.
Source: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/narrative.asp

December 2003: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district achieves national acclaim for its performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). CMS student performance in 4th and 8th grade exceeds the national average in math and matches it in reading. The performance of the other 9 urban districts participating in NAEP was below the national averages in both subjects and grades. When scores were broken down by race, Charlotte’s minority students also matched or did better than the national average.
Source: NAGB executive summary and press release of NAEP scores 12/17/03

May 2004: Two years after the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district ended desegregation with busing, their schools have become more racially and socio-economically unbalanced. Parents have overwhelmingly chosen to send their children to neighborhood schools; suburban classrooms are overcrowded with primarily white students while inner city schools have predominantly low-income students with many seats unfilled. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education case ending segregation in schools.
Source: Education Week 2/18/2004

June 2005: James Pughsley resigns, and the new interim superintendent, Francis Haithcock, takes over on July 1, 2005.
Source: per Damon Ford at CMS 6/2/05


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