CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Two members of the Charleston County School District are calling for a judge to issue a ruling on the controversy over pay raises the board voted for itself.
Board members Michael Miller and Kevin Hollinshead held a news conference Wednesday morning to speak about the vote, the backlash it has received from some in the public and a lawsuit filed late last week.
"We received some pushback from the public as it pertains to the method that was used for compensation," Miller said. "Most of the constituents that I've heard from have not been opposed to the board receiving compensation. Moreso, they have questions about the manner in which it was done."
Miller called for a judge to make a declaratory judgment from a circuit court judge on the legality of the raise the board voted to approve on July 17.
"As a board, we recognize that we do not work in silos," Miller said. "We represent constituents who vote for us to do what they feel is in the best interest of students and the district."
Miller said the vote was an attempt to rectify a policy that was put in place in 1967.
Miller said the measure passed second reading with four members voting yes. The four yes votes came from Miller, Hollinshead, the Rev. Chris Collins and the Rev. Dr. Eric Mack.
Miller said board Chair Kate Darby and Chris Staubes voted no and Cindy Bohn Coats abstained.
Members Todd Garrett and Priscilla Jeffrey were absent from that meeting, he said.
"We work on behalf of the public, so when the public feels the need for us to take pause, to look at, to review even further, we believe we need to do that," Miller said.
Hollinshead said the vote would be discussed in a special meeting scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday.
Miller added that procedural rules specify that for an issue that has already been voted on and decided to be placed back on a subsequent meeting agenda, only a board member who voted for the issue can place it back on the agenda. Miller said neither he, Hollinshead nor Collins has done so.
"So by the process of elimination, there is only one other board member who is able do that," he said.
That 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 were to become effective immediately, but Hollinshead said Wednesday the raise has not been implemented yet.
The suit, filed Friday by taxpayer Marc Knapp, named both the CCSD Board of Trustees and Supt. Dr. Geritta Postelwait and alleges the board acted outside its legal authority when it voted for the raises. 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.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.