CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Not even a mile separates Charleston County School district headquarters from Emanuel A.M.E. Church, the site of the June 17 massacre, where nine people were shot and killed during bible study.
Five days after the massacre, Charleston County school board members moved forward with the interview process for its next superintendent of schools, which included a community meet and greet and school tours.
North Charleston minister and civil rights leader Rev. Nelson Rivers III called the decision "a slap in the face," speaking on behalf of area black clergy and members of civil rights group, The National Action Network.
"We were in mourning," he said. "They should have waited, they did not."
In an email to CCSD Board of Trustees Chair Cindy Bohn Coats, Rivers wrote, "How could you, as a group, expect the necessary participation from the Black community, clergy and other leaders on last week so soon after the brutal murder of our family and friends?"
"Was it arrogance?" he asked.
Bohn Coats responded citing the decision to move forward included all board members, staff members, and victims' relatives and friends.
Rivers III questioned why victims' families were ever contacted, and said "there are some things I don't ask people in grief."
Board members are expected to meet in executive session Thursday to select the next superintendent among the three finalists.
Area clergy have asked to address the board prior to the 8 a.m. meeting, and are also requesting the process be extended, allowing time for three community forums with candidates, in North Charleston, the city of Charleston, and West Ashley.
"We aren't interested in finger pointing and saying you did wrong.," Rivers said of the school board.
"We want to know what we can do to make it right."