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CCSD Board Members That Walked Out Two Weeks Ago Could Return June 13
6/8/2016 4:56:29 PM

CCSD School Board Member Rev. Chris Collins (seated next to Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait) reads a statement before walking out of the May 23 board meeting. He was joined by the other African American board members, Rev. Eric Mack and Michael Miller. Photo: Tolbert Smalls, Jr.
By Barney Blakeney

Things pretty much have been at a standstill since the three African American members of Charleston County School Board walked out of the May 23 board meeting to protest the school district’s recent decision to close rural predominantly Black Lincoln High School and other actions.

Rev. Chris Collins, Rev. Eric Mack and Michael Miller said Lincoln’s closure was the tipping point in a pattern of practices that unfairly targeted predominantly Black schools for adverse discrimination. At the start of the May 23 meeting, Collins interrupted the proceedings to say the trio no longer would participate in board meetings because of the board’s disparate actions.

Since then the trio met with Superintendent Dr. Gerrita Postlewait to submit a list of concerns that include reopening Lincoln High and Middle at the current location until a proposed new school is built in Awendaw, hiring qualified Black principals, recruiting and maintaining black teachers, realistically addressing the district’s achievement gap between black and white students, adopting a mandate for black business participation in contract and consultant procurement, hiring a chief diversity officer and support staff, conducting a forensic audit of capital projects listed in the 2010 building program and electing a new board chair.

Miller said he thinks school officials especially should consider their concerns when $474 million was spent for procurement last year, but only two percent of that amount was spent with minority contractors. Charleston County School District is the region’s fourth largest employer with over 5,500 workers, Miller said.

In a statement submitted Monday, Postlewait said the members’ suggestions are appreciated and she will continue working on them within her purview of authority. But some of the suggestions require approval of the full board. Her staff is poised to take appropriate action once she receives such approval, she said.

Collins said Monday he, Mack and Miller will attend June 13 committee of the whole meetings which precede the board’s regular meeting. They will decide whether to participate in the regular board meeting dependent on the outcome of those committee meetings, he said.

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