Legislative committee addresses CCSD report, FOIA issues

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A newly-formed committee of local lawmakers met for the first time last night as a result of recent stories on Live 5 News about Charleston County Schools and the Marvin Gethers case.

There was repeated mention of the so-called Wilbur Johnson report. Johnson is the attorney CCSD hired for an internal investigation of the Gethers situation.

Committee Chair Representative Marvin Pendarvis said, “I’ve had a number of conversations with attorney Johnson and I certainly find him a capable individual. But for me it’s about being able to vet the report and take a look at exactly what it says. We haven’t been provided that report yet.”

The report is done and was presented to the school board behind closed doors in executive session two weeks ago.

But board members tell us they couldn’t keep a copy. CCSD attorneys denied our request for a copy of the Johnson report.

A CCSD spokesperson said the district will release the Johnson report after all investigations are complete.

The district also refused to tell us how much it cost to hire Johnson.

At the committee meeting, Sen. Marlon Kimpson said he’s “particularly disturbed” by the district’s delayed responses to FOIA requests for public information.

“We must remember that we are a state of laws, and no political subdivision should be beyond complying with our state code,” Kimpson said.

Several public speakers asked the committee about potential criminal charges in this case if they find school employees didn’t act to protect students.

Rep. Pendarvis said that would be outside this committee’s power and would be up to the solicitor’s office.

“If there’s some kind of criminal investigation, there will be opportunities for people to be subpoenaed and forced by law to come and talk and testify, go before investigators,” Pendarvis explained. “But this committee’s goal is that of a fact-finding mission.”

He said they hope to make personnel policy and procedure recommendations to CCSD and present them to other legislators at the state house.

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