CCSD board names law firm, addresses Gethers investigation

Chris Staubes: “All nine of us, without exception, are horrified about what’s happened here."

CCSD board names law firm, addresses Gethers investigation

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District confirmed it hired Wilbur Johnson at Young Clement Rivers Law firm to investigate how the district handled former employee Marvin Gethers.

In the first CCSD board meeting since our series of stories aired about Gethers, several board members expressed their concern over the situation and promised to be transparent about upcoming investigations.

“All nine of us without exception are horrified about what’s happened here,” said board member Chris Staubes. “We want to make sure this does get investigated, that this never happens again. We will cooperate with the investigations so justice will be done.”

This comes in response to a Live 5 Investigation into how CCSD handled an employee named Marvin Gethers. In 2014, IT specialists suspected they found child pornography on Gethers' school laptop and, 37 days later, reported in to law enforcement. School and police files we obtained showed district leaders did not terminate or place Gethers on long-term leave after they reported him to police.

Gethers continued to work at Dunston Elementary in North Charleston until he was arrested for the child pornography 22 months later.

He was later charged with the molestation of two students, assaults that allegedly happened in that 22-month window.

Questions remain about who made the decision to allow Gethers to work at the school while the investigation was underway.

Dr. Gerrita Postlewait wasn’t the Superintendent in 2014; she says they are still trying to answer lingering questions.

That’s why the district is hiring the outside law firm to conduct an “independent investigation,” she said.

Postlewait also addressed one question many people have been asking: How much did the school board know about Gethers in 2014?

“We can find no record of the matter going to the board either in executive session or public session,” Postlewait said. “A lot of people involved in decision making roles are no longer employed with the district.”

Current board members Chris Collins, Michael Miller and Cindy Bohn Coats were on the school board at the time. Bohn Coats was the Board Chair.

They have each independently told Live 5 the board was not briefed on the Gethers situation in 2014 but wish it had been.

Former board member Elizabeth Moffly said she does not recall the case coming to the board, either.

It is still unclear how much then-Superintendent Nancy McGinley knew.

Parents and activists lined up during public comment at Monday’s meeting. Beverly Gadson-Birch said students at Dunston, a low-income and predominantly African-American school, were especially vulnerable.

Several State legislators are forming a committee of local delegates to formally investigate why Gethers wasn’t fired sooner. The State Board of Education may investigate, too.

Board member Kevin Hollinshead isn’t satisfied with the firm picked for the district’s investigation. “I’m not happy with the investigation pathway,” Hollinshead said. “We’re using a cookie cutter firm we normally use in the district. No consideration talking to board members, especially those that live in that district.”

Board member Chris Collins echoed those concerns.

Gethers was sent home for a short time after the district found the illegal material on his laptop.

For reasons still unknown, he was allowed back to work while police investigated. He was promoted later in 2014 and named Classified Employee of the Year for the district in 2015.

Gethers’ attorneys and family tell us they still believe he was not guilty.

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