By Beverly Gadson-Birch
While Hurricane Florence was stirring up wrath across South Carolina, allegations of sexual assault on students and thousands of child pornography on a school laptop issued to former employee Marvin Gethers at Dunston Elementary School were stirring up wrath within the Charleston community.
Undeniably, school officials and investigative authorities dropped the ball or engaged in a cover-up of the incident. According to the news, one alleged victim was paid $300,000.
Dunston Elementary School is located on Remount Road in North Charleston with an enrollment of fewer than 400 students. Just to give you some insight into students’ ethnicity at Dunston, according to the school’s website, Blacks make up approximately 67%, Hispanics 25% and 83% are on free and reduced lunch.
Free and reduced lunch students are indicators of poverty in the school’s attendance area. These are “They”. These are the “faces” of the underrepresented and undereducated students in Charleston County School District.
Gethers was employed by Charleston County School District from 2000-2007 and 2010-2016. In 2014, a routine inspection of his computer was done by a tech specialist who discovered thousands of pictures of inappropriate sex acts by children and adults and reported it to authorities. Why did it take so long for the severity of this incident to surface and why did it take so long for Gethers to be fired and charges brought?
It took almost two years for charges to be brought against Gethers. Gethers died while awaiting trial.
While the “alleged investigation” was taking place, Gethers was given a raise and remained employed with the district. And it may have been during that almost two year window that he remained employed other sexual abuses occurred. Unbelievable!! So, who knew what and when? That’s what I want to know; and, I am sure the public wants to know too. If the facts and evidence corroborate the allegations, some heads in high places need to fly and the victims made whole again.
If the district did in fact pay $300,000 to a victim, and there maybe more, the district could be facing millions more in legal fees and victim compensations. And, who pays for the Board’s negligence and/or failure to act swiftly? Taxpayers!!!
This incident is gut-wrenching to say the least. This is a classic case of how the poor and vulnerable are often passed over and shrewdly disenfranchised. There is absolutely no way this incident would have happened in a predominately white school to white students and nothing done IMMEDIATELY. No, this is not a race thing!! It’s a factual thing! It’s how not only the present CCSD Board, but past Boards have dealt with minority students in the past.
There needs to be an independent investigation into the whether a cover-up occurred. Why wasn’t the employee suspended or fired immediately? What were district officials thinking?
Did the Board think that paying $300,000 to the parent or guardian of the student would seal the case? That seems to be a nice settlement for black or brown folks, right? They ain’t got “nothing anyway”, right? They don’t care “that much” about their children, right? Well, they are about to find out just how much black and brown folks care about their children. Did the Board think they could file this incident away in “File #13”?
All students matter!! Children should be the district’s “first” priority. The Board’s responsibility is to protect and educate all children equitably. In my opinion, they haven’t done a good job at either when it comes to minority students.
Y’all need to attend the next school board meeting!! Children should not have to join the “ME TOO” movement.
Sure hope y’all are listening!