Community in Uproar Over Sexual Abuse Case at Dunston Elementary School & Disparities in the Treatment of Black and Hispanic Students

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

On Tuesday, October 16, a group led by Elder James Johnson, State Director, SC National Action Network; Pastor Thomas Dixon, The Coalition; Myrtice Brown, Interdenomination Ministers Alliance, Community Activists and Concerned Citizens held a Press Conference in front of the School District Office at 75 Calhoun Street. The group addressed serious educational issues that gravely impact the African American and Hispanic communities including the upcoming school board election.

Beverly Gadson-Birch, Chronicle Columnist, addressed the Gethers molestation case at Dunston Elementary School; Myrtice Brown addressed the “rodent infestation” at Garrett Academy and Pastor Thomas Dixon addressed former Mayor Riley and the Coalition for Kids’ endorsement of three current school board members that are up for re-election. The problem with former Mayor Riley’s endorsement is the same Charleston County School Board members that he is endorsing are the same ones that sat on the Board during the “criminal investigation” of former Student Concern Advocate, Marvin Gethers.

Marvin Gethers, Student Concerns Advocate, formerly employed with Charleston County School District, was arrested and charged by North Charleston Police Department on “Criminal Sexual Conduct with a minor” on January 20, 2016. Mr. Gethers state issued laptop contained thousands of sexually explicit materials including adults engaging in sex acts with children. It took North Charleston Police Department twenty-two months to complete an investigation. Meantime, Mr. Gethers was allowed to remain at Dunston working with students. Gethers died in jail while awaiting trial.

Two students came forward charging abuse by Gethers. The group has requested a full investigation into Gethers’ activities by Sled, the Attorney General, Charleston County Solicitor, Department of Justice and the Center of Disease Control.  

Discussions swirled around three Board members, Cindy Bon Coats, Rev. Eric Mack and Kate Darby, that are up for re-election. The community wants to know who knew what and when and why Gethers was allowed to remain at the school during a criminal investigation into his sexual contact with students.

The group addressed education in general with specific reference to Dunston Elementary and Garrett Academy of Technology. The rodent infestation at Garrett is totally unacceptable. This was not the first time the Board was notified of the problem. Approximately eight years ago, a parent addressed the Board regarding rodents and faulty air condition problems.

This writer is appealing to all parents who had students at Dunston Elementary between the years of 2010 and 2016 to contact the Charleston County School Board at 75 Calhoun Street and the State Director, Elder James Johnson, SC National Action Network at 843-708-0081.

PARENTS, PLEASE COME FORWARD!! Protect your children. ALL students matter. The group vowed to continue fighting for equity for all students, particularly those students and parents who may not have a voice at the table and for those students who Charleston County School Board and District did not think important enough to protect from a sexual predator.

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