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With Dr. Gerrita Postelwait As A Finalist, Superintendent Search May Be A Done Deal
Published:
6/10/2015 10:17:32 PM


National Action Network Vice President Rev. Nelson B. Rivers, III (front left) and Charleston Branch NAACP President Dot Scott (front right) with local leaders at press conference Friday, June 5, 2015. Photo: Tolbert Smalls, Jr.
 
By Barney Blakeney


For many who have watched Charleston County School Board engage the process of searching for a new schools superintendent, last week’s announcement that the board has selected three finalists makes the past eight months seem almost a waste of time. They say the board has ended up just where it perhaps began at the outset.
   
District officials June 4 named Dr. Terri Breeden, Dr. Lisa Herring and Dr. Gerrita Postelwait as finalists for the position it plans to fill by July 1. They were chosen from among some 32 candidates. But critics of the process say Postelwait has been a majority of the board’s choice for superintendent from the beginning and the search was a camouflage to give the appearance of propriety.
   
In a statement released last week Charleston NAACP officials said, “The Charleston Branch NAACP......deplores the arbitrary, secretive and flawed search process that has led to the naming of three  finalists for the position of superintendent.”
   
And in a joint statement with members of the National Action Network it said, “ ...it seems our suspicions were justified and now have become reasonable fears. More than two weeks ago we learned that a majority of the board held secret meetings with a candidate (Postelwait) before the search was publicly announced ... We believed then a majority of the board had compromised the search process and yesterday we found that this candidate is now a finalist. This candidate seems to enjoy an unfair advantage.”
   
Last month board member Michael Miller revealed that seven of the board’s nine members met with Postelwait, a former Horry County schools Superintendent, before the formal process began. Postelwait was recommended by the S.C. School Board Association. CCSD contracted the association to assist with the national search. The meetings were co-ordinated by Columbia attorney Ken Childs, a principle in the company employed by the school board association. Those meetings compromised the process, Miller said.
   
After Miller’s revelation was publicized a group of local clergymen offered their input and support. The clergymen commended Miller for his courage and integrity and went further. They also filed a complaint with the state’s attorney general’s office asking for an investigation into charges the members may have violated state open meeting laws.
 
“If they did not violate the law, certainly they trampled upon the spirit of the law,” the group contended.
   
Despite the controversy, public schools advocate Henry Copeland Saturday said he thinks the outcome of the superintendent search is a foregone conclusion. Despite constant criticism neither Postelwait nor board members have changed their positions.
   
Gary Burgess, one of the 32 candidates who sought the position said Friday, “The candidates who have emerged as the finalists appear to be qualified for the position based upon the laws of South Carolina. However, it was obvious from the beginning that SCSBA’s and Childs and Halligan’s preferred candidate, Dr. Postelwait, and the district’s assistant superintendent, Dr. Herring, were always going to be in the top three.”
   
Rev. Nelson Rivers, Manager of Religious Affairs and External Relations for the National Action Network and a member of the group of clergy protesting the search process, said 150 years since the end of slavery and 50 years since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 Black folks’ struggle for justice and equality that includes the struggle to get Charleston County School District to treat Black children as well as it treats white children, is ongoing.
 
In the statement he delivered last week Rivers said, “The Charleston County School District deserves a superintendent who is committed to academic excellence, diversity and transparency. The selection of the next superintendent should engender confidence and not questions about transparency and integrity.”
 
Copeland though it seems Postelwait will be named superintendent, whoever gets the job will be entering an environment  clouded with negativity. Noting several board members will be up for re-election in 2016, Rivers said since the board is unwilling to change it has become necessary to change the board.
 

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