Lawmakers hear from public as officials launch investigation into CCSD

Lawmakers hear from public as officials launch investigation into CCSD

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Lawmakers heard from the public Monday night as they officially launch an investigation of Charleston County School District personnel policies and procedures.

This committee was formed in response to a Live 5 Investigation and could lead to positive changes for students and staff.

Legislators met for the first time in the committee at North Charleston City Hall.

State representatives and senators outlined their goals for this committee and they gave the public a chance to speak about what they want investigated.

SC Representative Marvin Pendarvis is the Committee Chair.

“This is a fact-finding committee. We want to get to the bottom of what happened, and find out how we can prevent it. What policies they have in place or lack thereof, to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said."One goal is to offer up suggestions to the school district and the state house to protect students and school staff."

Former CCSD Communications Office employee Karen Black spoke up saying she helped with the award that named Marvin Gethers classified employee of the year in 2015.

We found out that was a year after the district found child porn on Gethers’ computer and reported him to police.

Black says she didn’t know until he was arrested.

“Myself and my colleague who had been involved in promoting him as a wonderful employee who went the extra mile for students- she and I were sick for weeks. Months. I’m still sick about it. That’s why I’m speaking out,” Black said.

One of the central questions of this investigation is, in 2014, who allowed Gethers to keep working at the school while police investigated.

“He was given access, and I mean access to a lot of vulnerable children that I as a member of this community care very deeply about,” said Community Activist Louis Smith.

Police later also charged Gethers with molesting two students, which he denied.

Gethers died before the case went to trial.

Sexual assault survivors shared their own stories, and asked everyone to keep the victims in this case in mind.

Former CCSD school board candidate Francis Beylotte also spoke to the committee.

“Even if every person at 75 Calhoun is sent off in handcuffs and the board resigns, we still have children who’ve been hurt. Those children need treatment. The sooner we provide that treatment, the better off they’re going to be,” Beylotte said.

Pendarvis said any allegations or pursuit of criminal wrongdoing would have come from the solicitor’s office.

He hopes to gather the committee again before the end of the year.

CCSD’s legislative affairs employee was at the meeting to take notes for the district and report back to the superintendent.

She was unable to provide an interview but said she thought it would be helpful to have someone from the district who could attend the next meeting to answer questions.

The school board had its regularly-scheduled school board meeting at the time of the committee meeting.

School Board member Kevin Hollingshead was in attendance at the legislative committee meeting after the board meeting.

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