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CCSD Superintendent Appointment Smacks of Racism, Sexism
11/26/2014 3:25:55 PM

Lisa Herring

Michael Bobby
Staff Reports

Charleston County School Board’s decision to appoint Chief Operating Officer Michael Bobby interim superintendent after Dr. Nancy McGinley’s Oct. 30 resignation caused concern for some in the community who felt the ugly spectres of racism and sexism continued to affect district policy. The board’s action Monday to expand the responsibilities of Chief Academic Officer Dr. Lisa Herring perhaps offers some credibility to those concerns.

The board acted quickly after McGinley’s abrupt resignation to appoint Bobby, a white male, to the position despite urging from some who said appointing Herring, a Black female, to the position was the most natural path of ascension.

One observer said Bobby’s appointment was logical due to the financial issues confronting the district. But others said appointing the district’s chief academic officer interim superintendent was more logical.

Charleston Rep. Wendell Gilliard Oct. 31 joined a chorus of voices writing county school board chair Cindy Coates saying, “Dr. Lisa Herring should have been tapped to fill this post as she is responsible for recommending and carrying out programs involving, but not limited to curriculum.”

In a subsequent news editorial Coates wrote that since 2008 Bobby as overseer of contracts, finances, budget and procurement services, has had direct contact with all of the district’s departments and is in a unique position to lead the district through its transitional period.

But the board Monday backtracked on that vote of confidence.

The board voted to expand Herring’s academic responsibilities to oversee the day-to-day operations of schools. Bobby will continue to be responsible for the district’s financial oversight. The two essentially will share the responsibilities of the superintendent.

The new arrangement makes more sense, but still perpetuates a policy of racism and sexism that has characterized Charleston County School District, said several administrators who asked not to be named.

The board’s initial vote to appoint Bobby interim superintendent was made along racial lines noted one administrator. The board’s three Black members voted to appoint Herring, its nine white members voted to appoint Bobby. Monday, the board voted to designate Herring the district’s deputy superintendent, making her subordinate to Bobby though her responsibilities in fact make her equal to the superintendent.

“I think they realized their mistake, but it all boils down to racism,” said the administrator. We know Michael Bobby can’t run the academic side. It makes sense to appoint, to a school district, an interim superintendent who is an academician.

Unfortunately, the district’s organizational structure doesn’t say who’s second in command. This reveals that McGinley’s method of operation wasn’t very good. It was a decision made by McGinley to prevent Herring from being second.”

The board is expected to hire a superintendent by next summer. The district’s had a succession of white male leaders, one Black female leader and one white female leader. The proliferation of white male domination in a district where half its 48,000 students are Black is expected to continue, said the administrator.

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