GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCBD) – Berkeley County School Board members are concerned over a newly passed law they feel violates constitutional rights.
Bill S910, sponsored by State Sen. Larry Grooms, said the Berkeley County School Board should have nine members, of which eight should be elected from single-member districts where they reside, while one member should be elected from the county at large.
“It came into law just a couple of weeks ago and what it does is it changes the configuration of the Berkeley County School Board from nine seats to eight seats with an at-large seat,” said board member Kristin Tanner. “What they were trying to do was mirror county council.”
Changing the number of seats is not the real concern. Tanner said the odd number of board members, districts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9, will have to run for re-election in November when they have only served half of the four-year terms that voters elected them to.
“The bill cut short the terms of a school board members that were elected in November 2020,” she said. “The constitutionality part comes into play with our constituents. They voted in November 2020 for us to have four-year terms and they’re taking that right away and so their voices are not being heard.”
The Berkeley County School Board voted Tuesday night to look at the constitutionality of the law.
Tanner believes the law was passed for political reasons, specifically to get a chance to change the board members who were elected in 2020.
“I’m very concerned that there is a political agenda behind this. That is my personal feeling as an individual board member. I do believe they are trying to get us out,” she said.
She said when Charleston County’s school board districts were changed, those changes did not go into effect for two years, allowing board members to serve their full terms.
Tanner said the Berkeley County School District is planning to possibly file a lawsuit.
“The only way to challenge this – the only way to challenge the constitutionality of the law is through the judicial system.”
Tanner said she is hoping the school district will file a lawsuit by at least August when the filing deadline happens.