CCSD colludes with daily newspaper to trash board member

CCSD colludes with daily newspaper to trash board member
October 17 15:19 2018 Print This Article

Whenever the Charleston County School District (CCSD) administration considers a school board member a threat to its policy positions and actions, it colludes with the Post and Courier to attack that board member. The most recent example is a letter to local attorney Wilbur Johnson, which was leaked to Post and Courier columnist Brian Hicks. Hicks blasted board member Kevin Hollinshead in his Wednesday column for remarks Hollinshead made in a YouTube video with local journalist Quintin Washington.

The issue was over the decision by CCSD administrators to hire law firm Clement Young Rivers to investigate a 2014 internet pornography case and possible child molestation cases by a school employee without any school board input. Hollinshead does not trust the law firm to do a thorough investigation or expose the CCSD employees and 2014 school board members who had knowledge of the botched internal investigation, because the firm does regular business with the school district. Hollinshead wanted the school board to hire a law firm that did not have financial ties with the school district. He has also called for the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to conduct a criminal probe on the case.

The letter was distributed to school board members during a regularly scheduled Committee of the Whole meeting on October 8. It was then authorized by the the six board members present in what is being referred to as a “special meeting” of the school board. The letter issued an apology to attorney Johnson, who often handles racially sensitive investigations for CCSD, for remarks Hollinshead made to Washington in his interview. Hollinshead stated in the interview that Johnson didn’t know the people in the Liberty Hill neighborhood where the alleged incidents occurred at and around Dunston Elementary School in North Charleston. He then made an off-handed remark about whether Johnson eats fried chicken. The special meeting agenda¬†(item 3 F) referred to the letter as a “personnel matter”, even though Hollinshead is not an employee of the CCSD. It is not clear whether the CCSD complied with the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act by giving the public 24-hours notice of the special meeting.

The Hicks column is not the first time the Post and Courier has gone after Hollinshead. It ran a story in 2017 about two small-dollar bounced checks issued by Hollinshead in the past. The newspaper has also done hit pieces on school board member Chris Collins and former board members Elizabeth Moffly and Elizabeth Kandrac after they criticized school district policy. The attacks are intended to get board members to tow the line and not speak out against policy and actions they disagree with. The newspaper has a first amendment right to go after elected officials, but the reading public needs to hold it accountable when it shows bias. It’s unfortunate that the Post and Courier isn’t critical of the fact that a majority of ¬†students in CCSD failed to meet grade level standards in English and math in the 2017-2018 school year. None of the neighborhood schools in the North Area region Hollinshead represents performed well in any category. For example, only 1.2% of 5th grade students at Chicora Elementary School met or exceeded grade level standards in math.