CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The Charleston County School District (CCSD) announced some leadership changes on Thursday.

News 2 inquired a few weeks about regarding the previous Chief Academic Officer, Karolyn Belcher, leaving the district. CCSD has confirmed Belcher has left – she is replaced by Interim Chief Academic Officer, Michelle Simmons.

Belcher was one of the highest-paid employees in the district.

Simmons currently serves as the district’s associate superintendent of elementary learning. She has been with the district for the past 24 years.

According to the district, she came to CCSD as an elementary teacher at Mary Ford Elementary School, now Mary Ford Early Learning and Family Center, in 1998.

“With Ms. Simmons’ extensive experience as an educator, administrator, and leader, I know she will bring the leadership, skills, knowledge, and perspective needed to successfully lead our Learning Services division as Chief Academic Officer,” said Superintendent Don Kennedy. “We are excited to welcome her to this role where she can continue positively impacting the students of CCSD.”

Among other leadership changes, Anita Higgins will serve as Interim Deputy Superintendent of Schools. Jennifer Swearingen was named Interim Associate Superintendent of Elementary Learning and Channa Williams was named Chief Financial Officer.

Higgins is a former English teacher, master teacher, principal, and executive director. “Higgins is an accomplished educator with 24 years of experience in education; 22 of those years have been in CCSD,” the district said.

Williams joined CCSD in 2021 as Deputy Chief Financial Officer and has been serving as interim CFO since January 2022.

Swearingen currently serves as one of CCSD’s directors of Elementary Learning. She has been with the district for the past 25 years. According to the district, she first joined CCSD as a teacher at Ladson Elementary School in 1997 where she served for over seven years before joining district administration as an assistant principal at Jennie Moore Elementary School.