CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Neighbors and community activists say they were upset when Charleston County School District’s newly hired Superintendent Dr. Eric Gallien was placed on paid administrative leave two weeks ago; some of them were even in tears when that decision was made.
And in a show of support for Dr. Gallien, those same neighbors showed up by the dozens for the Board of Trustees first meeting since that controversial vote.
Community members say they were shocked but not surprised by the School Board’s decision to place Dr. Gallien on paid administrative leave. They say what five of the board members are doing right now is not advocacy for students or teachers, but advocacy for a specific agenda comprised of their own interests.
One way neighbors and activists at the meeting show they stand in solidarity with Dr. Gallien, and CCSD administrators who have spoken out in the last two weeks, is by wearing green.
“We wanted to do something for the community to show them that while they are the ones being brave,” former CCSD teacher Sydney Van Bulck said, “we’ve got their backs. Green is a symbol of for bravery and so that is why we are choosing to stand with them today.”
Many neighbors were disappointed that public comments were not allowed at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting and they’re hoping that will change moving forward.
“They just don’t want the public to get out and speak their mind,” Tony Lewis, founder of Motivate to Educate, said, “but hold on, you five board members come out and ask the public to vote for you. So, why wouldn’t you want to hear what they have to say? But you’ll run to knock on their doors and ask them to vote for you, but they’re not good enough to talk during the public comments? This is in the Constitution of the United States, freedom of speech. You’re taking our Constitution away.”
Hundreds of people attended the meeting. The CCSD boardroom was full, and neighbors filled three overflow rooms as well.