Money Talks: Corruption In High Places

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

How many of you have heard the saying, “money talks”? Y’all old schoolers can put your hands down. Now, how many of y’all old schoolers remember “Operation Lost Trust”?  Operation Lost Trust happened nearly twenty years ago involving South Carolina Legislators and resulted in specific limits being placed on campaign contributions in local election to be capped at $1,000. Operation Lost Trust was the largest corruption scandal in the FBI’s history which left rigid rules in place regarding campaign donations. According to Bing.com, Attorney Bart Daniels was the Federal State Attorney General during Operation Lost Trust. Daniels has “served as special counsel to the governor of South Carolina, conducting an internal investigation into allegations of public corruption and influence peddling in state government.” He now defends individuals who may be charged with campaign finance violations. Campaign contributions violations are serious. Folks fell from grace and went to jail.

Recently the news has been buzzing with wealthy parents who bought their children’s way into prestigious ivy league colleges and universities; and, then there is Lindsay Graham vacillating support for Trump. One minute he is against Trump and the next minute he is for. Have you wondered why? I don’t have the time nor the space to get into it but check out bluedotdaily.com.

On April 3, National Action Network, Interdenominational Ministers Alliance, Prestige Academy’s Director and other stakeholders met with Superintendent Postlewait and members of her staff to discuss the state of education. The purpose was two-fold to address overt disparities and to advocate for Prestige Preparatory Academy remaining open. In accordance with Clemson and College of Charleston studies and a suggested timeline of approximately 10 to 12 years for changes, the black/brown communities cannot wait another twelve years to correct years of designed discriminatory practices within Charleston County School District. Before exiting the meeting, the group asked the superintendent respond to their concerns in writing prior to April 10. The Superintendent chose not to respond.

The Superintendent’s failure to respond and arrogant dismissal of concerned citizens’ request led the group to do a little investigating of its own. And, you will not believe what the group uncovered. Y’all, there is corruption in high places and the Lowcountry is not immune.

This is the first of a series of articles relating to institutional racism within Charleston County School District (CCSD) at large and their unfair treatment of not only Prestige Preparatory Academy (PPA) but other minority schools, parents and students. The investigation revealed disturbing relationships between Superintendent Postlewait and Meeting Street Academy (MSA) billionaire owner, Ben Navarro. The district has partnered with Meeting Street Academy to educate students from Burns and surrounding areas. And, guess who chairs the Meeting Street Academy Executive Committee, Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait. This sounds like a conflict of interest to me. Is this why the pressure is on to close Prestige? Where will the students go? Y’all know the money follows the students. What is all this hoopla about public and private partnership to educate students at Meeting Street Elementary at Brentwood and Burns? What is Postlewait getting paid to do?

The Washington Post did an article November 5, 2018 on “Charter School advocates pouring money into local and education elections. Why so much control by private entities? It’s all about the money. The Post cited Charleston, SC, Ben Navarro and Charleston Coalition for Kids and how hundreds of thousand dollars are being spent to capture school board elections. Why? What is at stake here?

Some folks in high places think money can buy everything. Well, from the recent college admissions bribery scandal, nicknamed Operation Varsity Blues, it involved rich individuals who cheated the system with their influence for unfair advantages relating to college admissions while less influential parents and students played by the rules. If prosecuted, the public can hold onto hope that not all rich and famous folks get away with criminal acts of wrongdoing. I was taken aback when State Representative “Tee” Ferguson went to jail. He was moving making his mark in Columbia. Sometimes, you just have to do the time.

Stay tuned next week!! “Money, money, money …. What is it good for?”

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