Mom's for Liberty Charleston, State lawmakers, including Rep. Kathy Landing along with some board members, parents and church leaders are weighing in on the recent Superintendent shake up at Charleston County Schools.
Take a listen to SC Rep. Landing's in depth rundown of the evolving situation in this 'Big Fail Friday' edition of the Kelly Golden Show podcast, powered by Disaster Plus:
By Live 5's Patrick Phillips
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School Board is expected to receive a report into the investigation of the district’s superintendent and consider ending his contract at a special called meeting Friday morning, an agenda states.
The board voted 5-4 to place Superintendent Dr. Eric Gallien on paid administrative leave on Sept. 25 after a district employee filed a complaint about a “hostile work environment.”
The agenda states the meeting, set for 8 a.m. Friday, includes an executive session that lists three actions: the board is expected to “receive and consider the report of (the) investigation concerning allegations involving the superintendent and action, if any.” It also states the board will discuss a “proposed settlement agreement” between the district and Gallien, “including the resolution of the employment/contractual relationship” and “consider the appointment of (an) acting superintendent.”
After the executive session, the school board will have an open session during which action on those three items may be taken. It is not clear, however, whether the board will take action on any of them or release details of the investigative report.
The board’s meeting comes a day after Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie called on the board to restore transparency to its proceedings, stop trying to “micromanage” the district’s superintendent and focus on setting policy.
They also called on the board to require a supermajority for making critical decisions. A supermajority would require six of the nine board members to take actions that include hiring or firing a superintendent. Community members have criticized the board’s 5-4 vote that placed Gallien on leave, claiming the five board members were supported by the activist group Moms for Liberty. The four board members who voted against placing Gallien on leave held a news conference the following week calling on their fellow board members to reverse the decision.
Some community members have questioned why the board would move to suspend Gallien and possibly oust him from the role just months into his tenure.
The board has also received criticism for its decision not to hire Michelle Simmons as the district’s chief academic officer and the dismissal of six members of the district’s Health Advisory Committee. Tecklenburg said the actions created “a crisis of confidence among principals, teachers, parents, taxpayers, legislators and, yes, mayors.”
“You’ve got to restore transparency. Critical decisions are clearly being made in secret backroom meetings without proper public debate and acknowledgment. That’s just got to stop,” Tecklenburg said. “It’s been widely shown that they’re not adhering to our [Freedom of Information Act] laws in this state.”
Haynie said the supermajority stipulation is “a simple thing to do.”
“As for the six-vote supermajority, we did that with the town of Mount Pleasant comprehensive plan where it now takes a supermajority to change something as important and can be as disturbing as a comprehensive plan,” Haynie said. “You can do it under Robert’s Rules.”
“Let’s go back to educating our kids. That’s the number one priority. Get your differences worked out. That’s fine. But don’t do it at the demise of the quality of education we need to give our children,” Summey said. “Our goal with educators should not be to enhance differences in people but to bring people together so that our children can be educated. And so we’re here to ask that the community get together.”
Tecklenburg said that if the board did not take action to address the issues, the mayors would meet with the Charleston County Legislative Delegation to look at their options.
“We mayors are prepared to sit down with our legislative elevation and discuss alternate means of school governance, up to and including the consolidation of the county school district. You know, there are cities in this country that do a damn good job running schools,” Tecklenburg said. “And we’ll consider that, but we’ll talk with our state legislators about next steps on that.”
State Rep. Joe Bustos (R-Charleston), who chairs the Charleston County Legislative Delegation, also attended the news conference and said he supports the mayors’ fight to improve education and the school board’s governance.
“So I’m in lockstep with these gentlemen and whatever they need at the state level, I will try to get for them,” he said.
Gallien has been publicly silent about the investigation and his time on paid leave. However, the educator filed a lawsuit against the board earlier this month in which he alleged district policies and the school board of trustees hamper his ability to effectively do his job. The lawsuit also alleged the district breached his contract, violated board policy and has violated the Freedom of Information Act with an illegal meeting.
Last week, Gallien withdrew an earlier proposal that would have paved the way for his exit from the role, saying in a letter dated Oct. 16 to his attorney that he is “deeply conflicted” and continues to struggle with the recent decision, which he said, “came on the heels of conversations with my family and medical advisors who expressed concern regarding how this process may affect my health moving forward.”
“The more I have reflected on this matter, the more I recognize the deep bond I share with our community, and how this decision was made without fully considering the implications it may have on the community, and most importantly our scholars,” Gallien wrote.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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