About Us
History of CMS 
  • 1790 Sugar Creek School House opened as the first school building in Mecklenburg County (a parochial school); building still remains at the corner of North Tryon and Sugar Creek Road.
  • 1882 Public school system organized in Charlotte (Grades 1-10; grade 11 was added in 1908 and grade 12 in 1925) The first superintendent of the city school system was T.J. Mitchell. The system's first white school, known as South School, was located on the corner of East Morehead Street and South Boulevard in the barracks of the Carolina Military Institute. The first school for African-American children was organized in 1882 and was known as Myers Street School.
  • 1886 Professor J.T. Corlew named second superintendent of city schools.
  • 1888 Dr. Alexander Graham served as third superintendent of what was known as "the largest public school system south of Baltimore."
  • 1913 Dr. Harry Harding named superintendent. Under his leadership, Alexander Graham High School was converted into the first junior high school in the state.
  • 1918 State certification of teachers was made a requirement.
  • 1920 Buses were provided for students in Mecklenburg County.
  • 1925 12th grade was added to high school.
  • 1944 – J.W. Wilson was hired to serve as superintendent of the county school system. Previously county schools had been led by district committees and schools were given autonomy. In the mid 1800's there were more than 80 schools in the county. Under Mr. Wilson's leadership, many schools were consolidated.
  • 1949 The Institute of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recommended consolidation of the city and county school systems. Charlotte Chamber of Commerce led a study concluding that the best solution for local school problems would be to consolidate.
  • 1949 Dr. Elmer Garinger was chosen as superintendent of the city school system.
  • 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs. Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas, that separate schools are not equal.
  • 1957 Four black students entered previously all white schools in Charlotte. Delores Huntley attended Alexander Graham Junior High; Girvaud Roberts attended Piedmont Junior High; Gus Roberts attended and graduated from Central High in 1959; and Dorothy Counts attended Harding High School, but her attendance received much controversy.
  • June 30, 1959 Residents of Charlotte and Mecklenburg Counties voted 2 to 1 in favor of consolidating the two systems. On July 1, 1960, after more than eleven years of discussion and study, the two largest systems in North Carolina (Charlotte City and Mecklenburg County) were merged.
  • 1960 Dr. Elmer Garinger was named superintendent and J.W. Wilson was appointed deputy superintendent of the merged system.
  • 1962 Dr. A. Craig Phillips was appointed superintendent.
  • 1965 Vera and Darius Swann sued the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for not allowing their son, James, to attend the school closest to their home, which was a primarily all white school.
  • 1967 Dr. William Self was named superintendent.
  • 1969 U.S. District Court Judge James McMillan ordered that CMS use "all known ways of desegregating, including busing," making Swann a landmark case and setting the precedent for school desegregation cases across the nation.
  • 1971 U.S. Supreme Court upheld McMillan's ruling.
  • 1973 Dr. Rolland Jones hired as superintendent.
  • 1975 Satisfied with CMS's progress, McMillan removed CMS from direct court supervision (Final order - "Swann Song").
  • 1977 Dr. Jay Robinson, who came to be one of the state's top education leaders, was named superintendent.
  • 1987 Dr. Peter Relic named superintendent.
  • 1991 Dr. John Murphy named superintendent. Under his leadership, the system's magnet school program was established in 1992. The program was designed to match student's interests and learning styles with particular school themes, including the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.
  • 1996 Dr. Eric Smith was named superintendent. A strong focus was placed on increasing student achievement and providing rigorous academic courses for all students. Goals 2001 were set by Dr. Smith and focused on academic achievement, safe and orderly environment, community collaboration, and efficient and effective support operations. Participation in AP and IB courses increased tremendously under his leadership.
  • 1996 The Bright Beginnings Program, a literacy-based pre-K program, was developed in CMS to help preschool students arrive at the schoolhouse door ready and eager to learn.
  • September 1997 While the system was focused on student achievement, the issue of student assignment resurfaced. Parent William Capacchione sued CMS, claiming that his daughter was denied enrollment to Olde Providence Elementary, a magnet school, because she was not black.
  • 1997 CMS introduced the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program which serves middle and high school students who have potential but may not be considering college.
  • March 1998 U.S. District Court Judge Robert Potter reactivated the Swann case.
  • April 1998 A group of six white parents joined the Capacchione suit.
  • August 1998 Two African-American families joined the Swann plaintiffs.
  • March 1999 The Board of Education approved the Equity and Student Success: Achieving the CMS Vision plan
  • April 1999 The trial began in the Swann, Capacchione and Grant cases.
  • September 1999 Potter ruled that CMS is unitary, issuing an injunction against the use of race in student assignment and the allocation of "educational opportunities," and mandated that a new student assignment plan be in place for the 2000-2001 school year.
  • September 1999 The Board of Education voted to appeal Potter's ruling to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va.; and asked Potter for a one-year delay in implementing a new plan.
  • November 1999 A new Family Choice student assignment proposal for 2000-2001 was unveiled.
  • November 1999 Potter rejected the Board's request for a delay in implementing a new plan.
  • November 1999 The Board voted to take its request one more time to the Appeals Court in Richmond.
  • December 1999 The Appeals Court granted a stay of Potter's ruling, meaning the Board is not required to implement a new student assignment plan before the 2001-2002 school year.
  • Jan. 21, 2000 Board of Education approves a Student Assignment Oversight Committee to provide feedback to the board on student assignment and equity issues.
  • June 1, 2000 The Board of Education adopted a student assignment plan for 2001-2002. The new plan focused on the following areas:
    • Gives families a choice
    • Addresses growth in a reasonable way
    • Offers stability through K-12 feeder patterns
  • 1999-2000 School Year 99 CMS teachers received National Board Certification, making CMS second in the nation for this distinguished achievement. 44 percent of this year's CMS graduates completed at least one AP or IB course, up from 41.7 percent in 1999. Students made significant gains on the End-of-Grade tests in reading and math, with the percentage of students scoring on grade level in writing in fourth grade up 7.6 percentage points. CMS was chosen as the first school system in the nation to receive Advanced Placement diplomas from the National College Board.
  • Nov. 30, 2000 The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that CMS is not unitary in some areas such as facilities, student assignment, student achievement and transportation and sent the areas back to the lower court for reconsideration. Areas such as faculty, staff, and extracurricular activities and student discipline were considered unitary.
  • Dec. 1, 2000 Family Choice Plan was set aside by the Board of Education to conform with the Nov. 30 court ruling.
  • Dec. 14, 2000 On Thursday, Dec. 14, the Grant intervenors filed a petition asking the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals for a panel rehearing or an "en banc" (full court) review of the Nov. 30 ruling.
  • Jan. 17, 2001 The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to an "en banc" or full panel hearing, which was held Feb. 27, 2001.
  • April 3, 2001 A resolution was presented to the Board of Education, which was based on the framework of the Family Choice Plan adopted by the board on June 1, 2000 and suspended on Dec. 1, 2000. The resolution, which addresses equity with a focus on providing choice for all students, was approved and provided direction for the district to begin working on a new student assignment plan for the 2002-2003 school year.
  • 2000-2001 School Year CMS received national attention as a district committed to academic rigor and access for all students. In October, Dr. Smith was honored with the Richard R. Green award by the Council of the Great City Schools. This award is given annually to the country's top urban educator. He also was named Southeastern Regional Superintendent of the Year .The Council of the Great City Schools recognized the district as one of four urban school systems making significant gains in reading and math scores and closing the achievement gap. In the state's ABCs program, the district had no low performing schools. Test scores continued to rise with 82 percent 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 percent to 70 percent. In addition, 46 percent of 2001 graduates completed at least one AP or IB course - up from 31 percent in 1996. Maria Petrea, principal of Collinswood Elementary School, was named a Milken Family Foundation National Educator, one of only two given statewide.
  • July 2001 New student assignment plan approved by the Board of Education.
  • Sept. 21, 2001 Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed an earlier court ruling that CMS has achieved unitary status. The Board of Education voted not to appeal the ruling.
  • October 2001 Grant/Capacchione parties filed a motion to appeal the Fourth Circuit Court's earlier decision not to require Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to pay the attorney's fees.
  • October 2001 Belk plaintiffs filed a motion to stay the mandate pending their opportunity to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Oct. 8, 2001 Independence High School biology teacher Cindy Moss was named a Milken Family Foundation National Educator, earning a $25,000 award.
  • Nov. 1, 2001 Debbie Antshel, director of CMS Volunteers and Partnerships, received one of only four national awards given for creating innovative and effective school-business partnerships.
  • Nov. 12, 2001 Barringer Academic Center was named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the US Department of Education.
  • Dec. 1, 2001 CMS launched a new Family Choice Plan at the annual Showcase of Schools. More than 20,000 people attended the Showcase.
  • Dec. 3, 2001 The North Carolina Association of School Administrators named Dr. Smith "Superintendent of the Year" and selected him to represent the state in the national competition.
  • Dec. 8, 2001 A Northwest School of the Arts theatre production earned top honors in the state for the second year in a row. The "State Distinguished Play Award" was given by the North Carolina Theatre Conference.
  • Dec. 13, 2001 CMS' new student assignment plan reached the halfway mark as more than 55,000 families filed choice applications for their children.
  • Dec.14, 2001 The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Court voted to deny motions filed by the Grant/Capacchione parties and Belk plaintiffs. The denial of these motions allows CMS to continue with the 2002-2003 Student Assignment Plan.
  • Dec.15, 2001 Independence High School's varsity football team became the first Mecklenburg County high school to repeat as state champions.
  • Dec.18, 2001 Belk plaintiffs announced their intention to appeal the Sept. 21 decision made by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Court stating that CMS has achieved unitary status.
  • Jan. 18, 2002 Application deadline for the district's historic Family Choice Plan.
  • April 15, 2002 The United States Supreme Court announced that it would not hear the petitions filed by the Belk plaintiffs and the Grant/Capacchione parties. This decision lets stand the Fourth Circuit Court's decision on Sept. 21, 2001 that the district has achieved unitary status and is not obligated to pay the $1.5 million in legal fees to the Grant/Capacchione parties. This announcement means that CMS will continue with the 2002-2003 Student Assignment Plan.
  • May 24, 2002 Dr. Eric Smith announced his resignation to the Board of Education to accept a position as superintendent in Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Annapolis, Maryland. He will begin the new position on July 1, 2002.
  • May 28, 2002 The Board of Education extended a two-year contract to Dr. James L. Pughsley to serve as superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Prior to the offer, Dr. Pughsley served as Deputy Superintendent and Chief Officer for Administrative Services in CMS for six years.
  • July 1, 2002 Dr. Pughsley became the district’s first African-American superintendent. He made a commitment to continue the focus on academic success for all students and providing rigorous and challenging courses. He also pledged that CMS would continue to use the Aligned Management System initiated a year earlier. Its four components were the CMS Balanced Scorecard, the Project Management System (PMOC), the Appraisal/Performance Management System and the Budget Process/Allocation System.
  • July 2002 – The Family Choice Plan was launched by CMS.
  • August 2002 – CMS opened Mountain Island Elementary, Providence Spring Elementary, Jay M. Robinson Middle and Phillip O. Berry Technical High.
  • September 2002 The Equity Scorecard was developed to ensure equity of resources for all schools.
  • September 2002 – A report released by the Council of Great City Schools named CMS one of four successful urban school districts recognized for improving student achievement and narrowing the achievement gap.
  • 2002-2003 – CMS adopted the A+ Program to provide intensive support and monitoring for schools performing below expectations.
  • 2002-2003 Eighty-two percent of students in grades three through eight performed on grade level in reading, up from 77 percent a year earlier. Eighty-eight percent performed on grade level in math, up from 82 percent a year earlier. The percentage of students scoring in the highest achievement level in math increased at all grade levels. New federal legislation called No Child Left Behind led to compilation and release of information on school performance for all groups of students. Fifty-one CMS schools made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as defined by No Child Left Behind. Sixty-six CMS schools were designated Schools of Excellence or Schools of Distinction in the North Carolina ABCs testing program.
  • 2003-2004 All comprehensive high schools in CMS added a Junior ROTC Program.
  • June 2003 Newsweek magazine included four CMS high schools in its Top 100 Best High Schools in America list: Myers Park High (ranked seventh), Providence High (48th), Harding University High (65th) and East Mecklenburg High (89th). All traditional high schools in CMS with a graduating class were ranked in the top 700.
  • Fall 2003 Character Education was launched as part of the PreK-12 curriculum, the result of a grant received in early 2003.
  • October 2003 – The EquityPlus II Project began to address the continuing needs of targeted schools within CMS to increase achievement, enhancing the Priority and Equity Schools projects and allowing teachers to complete a master’s degree in exchange for agreeing to teach in an EquityPlus II school for two years.
  • November 2003 Dr. Pughsley was named national superintendent of the year by the National Alliance of Black School Educators.
  • December 2003 CMS outperformed the nation in reading and math scores for fourth- and eighth-grade students in the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), often called "the nation's report card."
  • June 2004 The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), was created to leverage supplemental resources and maximize academic achievement.
  • September 2004 CMS was one of five finalists for the Broad Prize. It recognizes urban school districts which show the most progress in student achievement while shrinking the achievement gap between ethnic groups and high and low-income students.
  • September 2004 CMS was one of five finalists for the Broad Prize. It recognizes urban school districts which show the most progress in student achievement while shrinking the achievement gap between ethnic groups and high and low-income students.
  • 2004 CMS was ranked seventh in the country by Forbes.com for “The Best Education in the Biggest Cities.”
  • March 2004 US News and World Report featured Highland Elementary and Randolph Middle schools in a story marking 50 years since the Supreme Court struck down school segregation in Brown vs. Board of Education.
  • September 2004 – The Board of Education approved the High School Challenge in response to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners’ call to increase student achievement at Garinger, West Charlotte and West Mecklenburg.
  • September 2004 A memorandum of understanding between CMS, the city and the county allowed the Board of Education to use the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center facilities for official meetings, allowing larger public attendance and participation in Board meetings.
  • December 2005 – CMS earned accreditation from the Georgia-based Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, becoming the largest school district so recognized.
  • December 2005 – CMS earns top scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests.
  • April 2005 – Dr. Pughsley announced his retirement as superintendent, effective June 30, to work with the California-based Stupski Foundation. The foundation provides consultation and leadership to improve student achievement.
  • May 2005 – The Board of Education named Dr. Frances Haithcock interim superintendent for one year, beginning July 1.
  • May 2005Newsweek magazine included four CMS high schools in its Top 100 Best High Schools in America list.  All traditional high schools in CMS with a graduating class were ranked in the top 700.
  • 2005-2006 – Dr. Haithcock continued district progress on major initiatives, including the comprehensive reading program, and a new math program of instruction. She also helped start a foundation to attract KIPP schools and other alternative programs, opened a Communities In Schools alternative site to upgrade options for struggling high school students and initiated town meetings to increase communication to the schools and community.
  • July 2006 – Dr. Peter C. Gorman became superintendent, joining the district from Tustin Unified School District in California where he had been superintendent. He announced a 100-day “listening and learning tour” to familiarize himself with the district and the area it serves.
  • November 2006 – Dr. Gorman introduced a four-year plan for the district, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Strategic Plan 2010: Educating Students To Compete Locally, Nationally and Internationally. Based on the Theory of Action adopted by the Board of Education, the plan revised the district curriculum and put more authority at the school level, partially decentralizing CMS. The plan had seven broad goals and focused on giving schools freedom and flexibility with accountability in alignment with the Theory of Action. It also focused on changes in the classroom, as well as parental and community involvement to increase student achievement.
  • November 2006 – Dr. Gorman gave the first State of Our Schools address for CMS. In it, he outlined goals in the Strategic Plan, including a district-wide shift to a cycle of continuous improvement to build and support a professional learning community at every school. The strategic plan also included a comprehensive accountability and performance management plan that used support, pressure and transparency to increase achievement by students and employees.
  • 2006-2007 – CMS gained significant new partners to help create and fund initiatives to increase student achievement. New partners included The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The C.D. Spangler Foundation, The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and singer Josh Groban.
  • November 2007 – A bond proposal for $568 million to fund school renovation and construction passed with 70 percent of voters supporting it.
  • 2007-2008 – CMS identified a district-wide need for a stronger pipeline to build school leadership. CMS created its own principal pipelines called Leaders for Tomorrow and Aspiring Leaders through partnerships with Wingate University and Queens University. The district also partnered with national nonprofit New Leaders for New Schools, The New Teacher Project and The Wallace Foundation. Dr. Gorman and the district also recruited several partners to help develop new initiatives and strengthen CMS, including Educational Research Strategies, the Harvard Data Project and the Aspen Institute. CMS also partnered with Teach For America and Communities In Schools.
  • November 2009 – Dr. Gorman launched the district’s second strategic plan, called Teaching Our Way to the Top. The plan set a district roadmap through 2014 and identified increasing teacher effectiveness as a key district goal.
  • January 2010 – Civic leaders and local foundations joined CMS to announce the creation of Project Leadership and Investment For Transformation (L.I.F.T.). Project L.I.F.T. targeted the west side of Charlotte, including 11 schools, to receive funds for strengthening neighborhoods and the schools that serve them. Participating in Project L.I.F.T. were the Belk, Duke Energy, Bank of America, C.D. Spangler, Leon Levine and Wells Fargo foundations, as well as Foundation For The Carolinas. Project L.I.F.T. began with more than $40 million in commitments from the foundations.
  • June 2011 – Dr. Gorman resigned as superintendent, moving to a new job with Education Corp.
  • July 2011 – Hugh E. Hattabaugh, the district’s chief operating officer, was named interim superintendent for a year. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education began a nationwide search for a new superintendent, hiring a national search firm to assist in the process.
  • September 2011 – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools won the Broad Prize for Urban Education in recognition of district progress in simultaneously increasing achievement and closing the achievement gap.