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School Board’s hiring of magistrate as security chief criticized

  • Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Georgetown County School District’s hiring of a white man to be its new head of security drew sharp criticism at this week’s School Board meeting.

Alan Walters was approved as the district’s director of Safety and Risk Management on Feb. 4.

Harold Jean Brown, a former School Board member, accused the board of racism this week for hiring Walters instead of one of the two black men who also interviewed for the job.

Brown also accused the board of discrimination since Walters’ salary of $72,600 is nearly twice as high as Kelly Kelley, who resigned as risk manager late last year.

Brown urged the School Board to pay women as much as men.

School Superintendent Dr. Randy Dozier said when the hiring process began, the position was advertised in the salary range associated with that position.

Later in the process the position was upgraded to a director level position with a salary range commensurate with other directors.

“The decision to increase the salary was not related to the hiring of a specific individual,” Dozier wrote in an e-mail on Thursday.

Brown also questioned why the board didn’t follow the recommendation of its own committee, which chose one of the black applicants.

Dozier wrote that the district doesn’t have “hiring committees,” but sometimes relies on committees to conduct initial interveiws. He then seeks input from those committees, but in the end, the recommendation is his decision.

“As Superintendent, I am charged with responsibility under State law and Board policy to make hiring recommendations to the Board, with the Board either accepting or rejecting my recommendation,” Dozier wrote.

Marvin Neal, who has frequently spoken out at School Board meetings about the lack of black men in supervisory positions in the district, said the hiring of a head of security should not be taken lightly because of the plethora of school shootings in the country.

Neal said several board members told him they didn’t know who the top candidates were before they voted.

“Shame on you,” Neal admonished the board several times.

“It’s embarrassing to know that this happened in Georgetown County,” Neal said. “Let’s try to do the right thing the next time.”

Walters’ hiring was approved by the School Board last month by an 8-1 vote, with Vice Chairman Arthur Lance casting the lone “no” vote.

Before the vote, Lance vehemently expressed his opposition.

“We hired Dr. Dozier as the exec, but that doesn’t mean he’s fool-proof,” Lance said.

“I make hiring recommendations to the Board based on an assessment of both objective and subjective criteria, including job history, degrees earned, relevant employment experience, performance during the interview process, and information supplied by references,” Dozier wrote on Thursday. “That was the process I used in making the decision to recommend Alan Walters.”

In other business

Georgetown County students will only make up two of the five days they missed because of the two ice storms last month, thanks to the S.C. Legislature.

Students made up one day on Feb. 18 and will make up a second on March 21.

The Legislature gave districts permission to excuse up to five days missed due to inclement weather, as long as a district has used up all the make-up days built into the school calendar.

“We’re going to take advantage of excused days, which is what everyone else in the state is doing,” Dozier said.

Andrews students have actually missed six days because of water problems in the town.

A suggestion to change the last two days of the school year, June 5 and 6, from half-days to full-days was nixed.

“After we do our PASS testing it’s pretty much over,” Dozier said.

District principals continued bringing wish lists to the School Board this week.

A math program called “Assessment and learning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS),” which was tested in several district schools last fall, was so successful that two principals want to bring it back.

Michael Caviris of Rosemary Middle, and Comelitia Pyatt of Carvers Bay Middle, said teachers reported great results with the program.

“We feel like we have found something to reach all students,” Caviris said, noting a seven- to 10-percent increase in test scores.

Caviris would like the district to buy 150 ALEKS licenses for the school to use during the next school year on a trial basis and then possibly more going forward.

Pyatt said Carvers Bay Middle used ALEKS with students who were struggling on math tests, but teachers would like every student to have access to the program.

Sampit Elementary principal Sabrina Goff-Mack would like more frequent visits from the district’s technology coach, a sentiment echoed by Waccamaw Intermediate principal Tim Carnahan.

“Training of teachers is critical if you’re going to use technology in classrooms,” Carnahan said.

Georgetown Middle assistant principal Jay Hartley said the school would like to see its current receptionist’s contract extended from 180 to 220 days, and another receptionist added to the staff.

With almost 900 students and 88 employees, the current receptionist is overwhelmed with the amount of phone calls, and the approximately 75 to 100 people who visit the school on a daily basis.

The next School Board meeting will be March 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the Beck Administration and Education Center on Church Street in Georgetown.

Staff writer Scott Harper contributed to this story.

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