CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- State Rep. Wendell Gilliard (D-Charleston) is calling on state officials to launch investigations into recent actions taken by the Charleston County School District board which included placing the district’s newly hired superintendent on paid administrative leave.
In a letter dated Oct. 2 to South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, Gilliard said he was concerned by the “racial undertones” of the board’s decisions.
“The Moms for Liberty are using their position on the school board to bully and intimidate the Superintendent, and their attacks are clearly motivated by race,” Gilliard said in a news release. “This is unacceptable, and we cannot allow it to continue.”
The school board voted 5-4 last Monday to place Dr. Eric Gallien on paid administrative leave. It was a move that many said lacked transparency. An attorney representing Dr. Gallien told News 2 that the general counsel placed a personnel issue on the agenda for executive session days before without the superintendent’s knowledge. Many fellow board members say they were also left in the dark.
Dr. Gallien began acting as superintendent in July and was one of the top picks among board members during a nationwide search.
Monday’s decision also reignited concerns over the board members’ connections to the Conservative group Moms for Liberty, which some felt has pulled sway over the decision-making.
Now, Gilliard is calling on the attorney general’s office to investigate whether the board’s majority faction violated any state laws in making their decision.
“South Carolina law is unequivocal in its commitment to protecting individuals from politically and racially motivated attacks, and it is essential that these protections extend to all citizens, including those who serve within our educational institutions,” the letter states in part. “I respectfully request that your office investigate this matter thoroughly and impartially to determine whether any violations of the law have occurred. It is imperative that we ascertain whether these attacks have violated any laws and are indeed racially motivated.”
Those concerns were echoed in a separate letter dated the same day addressed to State Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver.
“While it is certainly within the purview of a school board to make decisions such as placing a superintendent on administrative leave, the actions surrounding placing the newly hired Charleston County School District Superintendent on administrative leave is concerning and has raised serious concerns within our community,” Gilliard wrote.
Gilliard is one of several South Carolina representatives that have spoken out in the wake of several recent chaotic school board meetings.
Last week, State Rep. Marvin Pendarvis (D-Charleston) renewed his call for North Charleston to establish its own school district, saying the recent incident involving the school board “further underscores the board’s dysfunction” which he believes “takes precedence over the pursuit of increased educational outcomes for students.”
Democratic State Reps. JA Moore and Deon Tedder also called the board’s decision to place Gallien on leave “unacceptable” and alleged it may have been racially-motivated.
You can read the full letters from Rep. Gilliard below: