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Why Blacks Can’t Wait for Diversity?
2/11/2015 5:31:42 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

Charleston County School Board missed another opportunity on Monday night to move the district forward when the Board voted 5-4 not to extend the contract of Kevin Clayton, Diversity Consultant, for the district. Voting against the extension of Clayton’s contract were Chris Staubes, Tom Ducker, Kate Darby, Tripp Wiles and Cindy Bohn Coats, Chairperson, vote sealed the termination of contract. Voting in favor of the extension were Rev. Chris Collins, Rev. Eric Mack, Todd Garrett and Michael Miller.

Kevin Clayton is CEO of AXXIS Consulting Firm with “over 30 years of corporate and entrepreneurial experience in sales, marketing, diversity, consulting and training in various industries including entertainment, banking, consumer package goods, politics and sports.”

The driving force behind Clayton’s departure can be linked to the Academic Magnet “Watermelon” incident where students on the team, coach and assistant coach were questioned regarding the use of the watermelon during victory celebrations. Although the questioning was led by district personnel with Clayton sitting in to provide support to the district in such a sensitive situation, the Academic Magnet parents are suing him and his firm.

Board members Michael Miller and Rev. Chris Collins put up persuasive arguments on extending Clayton’s contract through June that fell on deaf ears. After June, the Board could put the diversity contract out for bid or hire a full time diversity employee. With all of the problems facing Charleston County School District now is not the time to halt diversity efforts. Mostly segregated schools and staff in the district highlights an even greater need why the district can’t wait for diversity.

The Academic Magnet currently has 16 Black students out of 644 and the incoming freshman class has two. Buist Academy has 49 black students out of 466. Pinckney Elementary has 60 blacks out of 1,304. Sullivan’s Island, has 2 blacks out of 523 and Wando High School 458 out of 3,902. The same holds true for staff at the schools. Academic Magnet, 6 black teachers out of 47; Ashley River Elementary, 1 out of 45; Harborview Elementary none out of 40; , Pinckney Elementary, 1 out of 73; Buist Academy, 3 out of 34; Jennie Moore Elementary, 1 out of 51.

The Board’s vote not to extend Clayton’s contract is a double whammy against the consultant. He is being sued by some of the Academic Magnet parents whose children were questioned and he lost his diversity contract impacting his income to defend himself against a frivolous lawsuit. And why should Clayton have to defend himself? The real reason for Clayton’s termination is he is being sued to slow down diversity. Some parents are fighting against change because they want to make public schools private schools at taxpayers’ expense.

The true meaning of diversity is “change”. The failure to change from exclusion to inclusion is why the educational system in South Carolina lags so far behind other states. White parents abandoned the public school system for private schools because they did not want their children educated along with black children or black teachers teaching their children. Now, they are migrating back on their terms and forcing minority children out of their home schools and taking over education in those schools.

Former Superintendent McGinley realized the importance of diversity in achieving the district’s goal and hired Clayton to come up with a plan to ensure that the district does a better job in integrating the schools, staffs and creating opportunities for minority contractors. The district policies are flawed and need fixing to ensure greater representation and opportunities for all.

CCSD can no longer wait or slow down the process to integrate schools. Black children are lagging behind white students in every aspect of education. Minority contractors are not getting substantial contracts. We can no longer wait for the Board to act responsibly. If y’all can sit in at lunch counters, surely you can sit in at the school board meetings. Are y’all listening?


Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Roger Clegg, Ctr for Equal Opportunity Submitted: 2/12/2015
It's good to make sure contracting programs are open to all, that bidding opportunities are widely publicized beforehand, and that no one gets discriminated against because of skin color, national origin, or sex. But that means no preferences because of skin color, etc. either--whether it's labeled a "set-aside," a "quota," or a "goal," since they all end up amounting to the same thing. Such discrimination is unfair and divisive; it breeds corruption and otherwise costs the taxpayers and businesses money to award a contract to someone other than the lowest bidder; and it's almost always illegal—indeed, unconstitutional—to boot. Those who insist on engaging in such discrimination deserve to be sued, and they will lose.

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