Terminated: New Hanover County School Board Fires Superintendent Charles Foust

by | Jul 3, 2024 | News

Accusations Fly: Did Foust Actually Direct Schools to NOT Suspend Students if They were Black?

As residents prepare to celebrate Independence Day, the New Hanover County School Board abruptly ended Superintendent Charles Foust’s employment at their meeting Tuesday without any public discussion. This decision likely stems from a scathing survey commissioned by the Board and conducted by the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. The report includes over 150 pages of raw comments from educators across the district, with hundreds accusing Dr. Foust and his administration of mismanagement and possible malfeasance.

The School Board’s vote was unanimously 5-0, with Board members Josie Barnhart and Stephanie Kraybill absent from the meeting.

(Below) After a 90-minute closed session, the New Hanover County School Board votes to end Dr. Charles Foust’s employment with the district, effective immediately.

(Below) During the ‘Call to Audience’ period of the school board meeting, concerned parent Chris Sutton reads out loud some of the teacher responses to the district-wide survey.

Superintendent Foust has been a lightning rod of controversy since he began his position at the start of the 2020/21 school year. His tenure was marked by several contentious actions, including:

  • Contracting DEI experts to conduct an “Equity audit”
  • Promoting a staff member to Chief Equity Officer without School Board approval
  • Defending a Marxist pre-teen book as appropriate for AP-level courses
  • Disavowing the U.S. Constitution
  • Attempting to replace a special needs high school with a school for refugees
  • Failing to provide the school board with a balanced budget

(Below) After a 90-minute closed session, and during the vote to terminate Foust’s employment,  the dias chair normally reserved for the superintendent remained vacant.

Dr. Foust's chair at the dais was empty as board voted to terminate his employment

NHCS District-wide Survey Sinks Foust

Over the last few months, educators from across the district were invited to participate in an anonymous survey that asked about the performance of the district’s leadership. The canvassing of the survey was managed by UNCW’s school of Government in order to keep district leadership at arm’s length from the process. What teachers commented about leadership was devastating. Criticism of district leadership in the report could be summed up as leadership undervalues teachers, lacks an understanding of the issues they face, ignores safety and will retaliate against individuals who complain.

Notable Survey Comments

Mostly, survey respondents gave basic overviews and general direction of their work environment, others were more specific and gave tidbits of information that should raise eyebrows.

On Discipline and Student Safety

When one respondent addressed school safety, they submitted,

“District leadership has sent the message not to suspend students of color. Discipline is so inconsistent that students are confused about expectations and there are little no consequences for students behavior in this district. When behaviors are documented in Educators Handbook they are often changed to make the school look better.”

Another said,

“USE THE SUSPENSION CENTER. Negative behaviors without consequences are destroying our TIER 1 methods. What you permit, you promote. What you condone, you own! We have actual murderers in our high schools. FIX THIS.”

On the topic of Retaliation

Teachers and staff fear retaliation. One respondent submitted:

“District leadership is a mess. Teachers feel no trust for anyone in Central Office. People that were respected quickly changed when Foust arrived. Everyone is careful to speak, almost as if they are afraid. Central Office staff have not been truthful, either to employees, the public or the school board, speaking in half-truths or even complete lies. Supposed mistakes never get corrected because the misinformation serves the district better. Refer to the districts Careers page and their claim that NHCS has the highest teacher supplement in NC. Retaliation is well known, so no one speaks out. Many people refused to complete this survey because they do not trust that it is anonymous.”

Another respondent stated,

“From the top down, there is very little to promote Educational, mental, physical, emotional or social growth. Central office had no idea, what and how to allow the district to move forward. Ethics 360 is a head hunter program, if you question it, you are removed and threatened. All this because central office couldn’t do their job in the first place.”

Ethics 360 is district-wide program that is designed to accommodate tips from anyone who suspects wrongdoing.

The 2024 NHCS Climate Survey: Read for Yourself

This year’s climate survey aimed to assess the working environment and culture under Dr. Foust’s leadership. The report, publicly released on July 1st, protects the identities of the respondents. The report is divided into two parts. Part 1 is a seven-page document presenting a statistical analysis of the survey’s quantitative data. Part 2 is a comprehensive 153-page list of responses from the survey’s participants.

We’ve provided the report for you to download and read.

(Below) Click the following image to download the 2024 NHCS Survey Quantitative Data document.

2024 NHCS Survey Quant Data thumbnail

(Below) Click the following image to download the 2024 NHCS Survey Responses document.

2024 NHCS District Climate Survey -Written Responses - thumbnail
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