BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Dr. Anthony Dixon, who was recently named interim superintendent of education in Berkeley County, said he was called about taking the position prior to the board’s abrupt and controversial vote to oust its current education leader.
The 6-3 vote in favor of firing the district’s first Black superintendent, Deon Jackson, happened during a meeting that was largely billed as a swearing-in of the new members following the November 8th election.
A reason for Jackson’s termination – along with district attorney Dr. Tiffany Richardson – was not provided despite mounting questions from fellow board members, teachers, and the community.
“I’d like to know the justification, the rationale, and the reasoning for firing an individual who just was proficient in his first annual evaluation,” questioned at-large school board member David Barrow. “What is the reason, mister chairman? You made the motion, what is the reason? Why are we terminating his employment?” Barrow even went as far as to call the move a “political witch hunt.”
Dixon was a finalist for Berkeley County school superintendent prior to Jackson being picked for the job in July 2021. Dr. Dixon said that the board’s new chairman, Mac McQuillin, called and asked if he was still interested in the role the weekend before the board’s vote.
“I confirmed to Mr. McQuillin that I was interested in serving Berkeley County if given the opportunity,” he said, noting that he could not be offered the position until the Berkeley County School Board met and voted. “That official news came Tuesday night,” he said.
Dixon said he was not present during the meeting but watched the vote happen virtually.
Board Chairman Mac McQuillin told News 2 on November 17 that he understood the community wanted answers regarding Jackson’s termination but could not provide those details due to the “prospect of litigation” and because “termination involved personnel issues.”
He maintained the decision was in the “best interest of the district and its students.”
In a previous News 2 follow-up regarding the legality of the school board’s abrupt vote, media attorney Jay Bender said it is possible the board broke transparency rules when Jackson and attorney Dr. Tiffany Richardson were fired during the board meeting because the matter was not publicly disclosed, which could be a violation of the Freedom of Information Act.
Bender said the board coming to a consensus so quickly likely required a prior meeting of at least some board members.
“I cannot imagine that those steps were taken without a quorum of the board getting together in advance of the meeting,” said Bender. “Whether it was in person, by telephone, email, or electronically to decide that those were the steps that were going to be taken.”
Bender said that meeting outside the public eye is illegal.
Dixon was named Interim Chief of Schools for the Charleston County School District in August 2022.