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Charleston County School Board: Clean Up Your Mess!
Published:
1/27/2016 5:43:10 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch 
 

Charleston County School Board has demonstrated time and time again that they are not interested in educating all children equitably. So, I ask myself the question, why not?

CCSD Board hired a new superintendent using the backdoor approach, squandered millions of taxpayers’ dollars that are still unaccounted for, failed to pay file with the IRS on time, established choice schools for choice students, created magnet schools for the “haves” and left the “have nots” behind in failing schools, replaced black board members as committee chairs and changed the long time practice of two official public Board meetings to one so they don’t have to deal with the public. The Chair has decided to create “Committees of the Whole” where every Board member is represented on every Committee and allow public input at those meetings.

The problem is most “have nots” parents work and will be unable to attend committee meetings. The Committee of the Whole will certainly limit parental and community input into meetings where important decisions are made. The Board also reduced the amount of time the public can speak from two to one minute. So why isn’t the public outraged at such outlandish behavior by elected officials?

Why are politicians sitting back and not challenging the Board’s behavior?

The Board has proven not to be good stewards of taxpayers’ money yet they continue to reach out to the public for more money to renovate and build new schools. There is more than enough mess going on at 75 Calhoun Street and it is time for a complete review of the entire district. Rev. Chris Collins and Michael Miller, two of the Board’s strongest critics, have been removed illegally from their chairman’s position over Strategic Education and Transportation respectively.

Another issue of great concern is the $500,000 fine to the IRS for filing W-2’s late. Now, some things are beyond comprehension. CCSD officials do not have the same rights as I do. If I file a late return and am fined, then I must pay the fine with my money. If CCSD files late and is fined, the money comes from the taxpayers. CCSD does not have the right to squander taxpayers’ money over ineptness like it is theirs.

The Board is also paying $80,000 to conduct a forensic audit to determine what happened to the more than $18 million dollars shortfall. The $80,000 does not include costs for an internal audit. The district also has a number of lawsuits that has been settled and others pending which raise the issue of preventable and excessive legal fees.

Then there is the payout to Dr. Lisa Herring for “kicking her to the curb”. Dr. Herring was more than capable of serving as Acting Superintendent while the Board conducted a superintendent’s search.

Dr. Herring and Michael Bobby were supposed to share the superintendent’s position until a replacement for Dr. Nancy McGinley was found. I am sure Bobby made more of the superintendent’s appearances while Dr. Herring assumed the arduous task of running the district.

Let’s not forget the pay out to former Acting Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer, Michael Bobby, who left the district in a quagmire amidst controversy. So why is Bobby receiving a pay out of his contract when the forensic audit has not been completed? It’s like paying the hit man before proof of the hit has taken place.

I don’t think anyone is accusing Bobby of misappropriation of funds but there needs to be some accountability. The public has a right to know how the shortfall occurred. While the Board continues to accommodate the “haves”, the “have nots” continue to pay the bill for their incompetency. It’s not fair and something needs to be done.

It is time that the Board works towards bridging the divide in the community. One of the first steps moving forward is to allow more time for public input at meetings, add citizens/parents (with no voting power) to each committee to ensure public engagement, foster trust and create transparency in dealing with students, parents and the community, ensure staff and student diversity in every school and make every school an excellent school. Every child may not be an excellent student but every school should be an excellent school.

It is time for the Board to get serious about educating all students fairly and providing them with a highly challenging education and the tools necessary to compete globally in a high tech world.

Board members, are you listening? You won’t have to worry about how long a person speaks to agenda items if you do what is right. The public is sick and tired of shelling out tax dollars to see your circus performance.

Clean up your mess!

 

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