Milwaukee Excellence Charter School founder fired, another employee facing criminal charges

NOW: Milwaukee Excellence Charter School founder fired, another employee facing criminal charges

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The founder and CEO of Milwaukee Excellence, Maurice Thomas, was fired last week. It comes on the heels of another employee facing criminal charges.

The two incidents are not related, but happened back-to-back just as the school year is getting underway.

Thomas founded Milwaukee Excellence, a public charter school for middle and high schoolers. He's been featured in news stories for his hip hop approach to academics, but last week, the school's board of directors fired Thomas.

According to a letter sent to parents, the board was made aware of allegations that Thomas "engaged in personal behaviors that violate our policies, code of conduct and professional standards." The allegations did not involve students, but the board hired an outside law firm to investigate. Based on the findings, the board unanimously voted to terminate Thomas on Thursday.

That same day, more problems for the school. Another staff member, Decerdric Davidson, appeared in court on domestic violence charges. Davidson was arrested earlier in the week.

Davidson is a restorative practice coach in the middle school. Sources say his duties include working with kids involved in fights.

According to a criminal complaint, back in March, Davidson showed up at an ex-girlfriend's home, kicked down the door, grabbed her and began choking her. According to the complaint, Davidson also damaged furniture. The complaint says a doorbell camera shows Davidson yell "open the punk-*expletive* door up” and then begin to kick the door. Police say Davidson had a gun holstered on his hip during the incident.

During his initial appearance, Davidson was ordered not to have contact with the alleged victim and prohibited from carrying a firearm. He was released on a signature bond.

A spokeswoman for the school says Davidson is on a leave of absence.

Thomas and Davidson did not return requests for comment.

Davidson will be back in court on Sept. 13 for a preliminary hearing.

Below is the full letter sent to parents regarding Thomas' termination:

"With deep disappointment, we are writing to share that Maurice Thomas has been removed from his position as president and chief executive officer of Milwaukee Excellence. He is no longer affiliated with the school in any capacity.
The board of directors had been made aware of allegations that Mr. Thomas engaged in personal behaviors that violate our policies, code of conduct and professional standards. Given the serious nature of the allegations (which did not involve students), and to ensure a fair and thorough process, the board of directors of Milwaukee Excellence hired an independent, third-party law firm to investigate. Based on their findings, the board of directors terminated Mr. Thomas’s employment. The decision was unanimous and is effective immediately.
This is hard news to share. Mr. Thomas has been an important part of Milwaukee Excellence since its founding. But Milwaukee Excellence is about more than one person. A full team of leaders, educators, and supporters continues to wrap their arms around our students, families, and broader school community and remain undeterred in our shared mission to put all students on the path to college.
As we move forward, Rodney Lynk, vice president and chief academic officer, will assume day-to-day leadership of Milwaukee Excellence. Mr. Lynk has been with Milwaukee Excellence since 2016, and works closely with our principals and teachers, as well as our school administrative teams. We have every confidence our entire team will continue to successfully lead Milwaukee Excellence on its journey towards excellence, just as they always have done.
Thank you for being part of our Milwaukee Excellence family. While this is a difficult moment, we have every confidence in a very bright future for our school and students.
Sincerely,
Milwaukee Excellence Board of Directors"
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