CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Community members gathered at Emanuel AME Church Thursday night to talk about the recent controversy surrounding the Charleston County School Board’s decision to place Superintendent Dr. Eric Gallien on paid administrative leave, which was upheld during a specially-called meeting on Thursday morning.
Mother Emanuel’s sanctuary was filled with many community members who are still worried about the future of the Charleston County School District (CCSD) following Thursday’s board meeting.
“We’re going to continue to keep the pressure on the school district,” Charleston community activist Arthur Lawrence said, “and we’re going to continue to show up and speak out.”
At Thursday night’s meeting, Charleston County neighbors shared their concerns about board members leading the state’s second-largest school district.
“This morning gave a very bizarre example of what happens when you have unprepared bigots run your organization,” Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III said. “Poorly trained bigots who run your organization.”
Two board members who voted against placing Dr. Gallien on paid administrative leave attended Thursday night’s meeting and received a standing ovation.
“We knew we would lose the vote,” CCSD Board Member Darlene Dunmeyer-Roberson said, “but what we thought was most important this time was to get information out of the injustice that is happening to Dr. Gallien.”
“The racism,” CCSD Board Member Dr. Carol Tempel said, “the antisemitism, the homophobic piece, to me it was the most significant realization that we have to fight here. We have to fight strong and we have to be persistent.”
Community leaders say despite the actions taking place by certain members of the school board, they are pleased with the response from the community.
“I counted on them acting a fool,” Rivers III said. “I counted on them trying to be racist, homophobic and stupid. But I did not count on our community responding with such of a uniform way of saying, ‘Not on our watch, not on our time.’ So, lets commend each other for standing up and fighting.”
The next CCSD school board meeting will be held Monday, October 23rd.