Lawsuit filed over CCSD board member raises

The Charleston County School Board is facing a lawsuit over its members' decision to give themselves a raise.

The July 17 vote gave CCSD Board members a raise of $14,428 per year. The board also voted to give constituent board members a pay increase of more than $7,000 a year. The raises became effective immediately.

Taxpayer Marc Knapp filed the lawsuit Friday naming both the CCSD Board of Trustees and Supt. Dr. Geritta Postelwait.

The suit alleges the board acted outside its authority when it voted for the raises, adding the decision is in violation of statutes. The suit claims the raises will be paid out of tax revenues and since the district has not budgeted for the raises, the money would be taken from other funds necessary to educate students. The suit specifically mentions Title 2 money as a possible target, adding removing money from that source is something the board has "consistently done."

The suit seeks a temporary restraining order preventing the raises from being paid to board members or constituent board members, a temporary and final injunction against disbursing the money unless it is done according to state law, court costs and attorney fees, and an order requiring board members repay any portion of the raises they received before a restraining order or injunction is set in place.

District officials say the pay hike will cost taxpayers about half a million dollars.

State Sen. Chip Campsen says he was approached by some concerned citizens who questioned the legality of the pay raise. Campsen said according to state law, the school board members are only entitled to $25 dollars per meeting plus mileage. He says it would take a change in the law to allow the board to have a salary.

State Rep. Wendell Gilliard believes the board members deserve a pay raise. Gilliard introduced a bill in the last legislative session to allow the school board to set their salaries, but the bill died.

Charleston County School District spokesman Andy Pruitt says the district has no comment on the lawsuit.

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