Charleston Co. superintendent apologizes for district’s handling of Gethers case

Superintendent reacts to CCSD controversy

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - For the first time since Live 5 News first aired an investigation into a Charleston County School District employee who was promoted despite accusations of having child porn on a district computer, the leader of Charleston County Schools sat down one-on-one with Investigative reporter Carter Coyle to address the case.

Gethers was an elementary school employee caught with child pornography in 2014 who was allowed to keep working with kids for two years, and was named employee of the year, all while police investigated him.

He was also accused of molesting students.

Dr. Gerrita Postlewait apologized for what happened Thursday. She said that while she was not the superintendent at the time, she is sorry and hopes to one day get to the bottom of the decision-making.

CCSD recently hired an outside attorney named Wilbur Johnson to do an internal review. Postlewait told said his investigation was not thorough because certain people refused to be interviewed for their investigation.

“It is the opinion of the current CCSD administration that Mr. Gethers should not have been allowed to return to work. He should not have received a promotion. He should not have been honored as the employee of the year,” Postlewait said.

Her comment was part of a nearly two-page statement she issued today and asked us to release to the public in full:

For the past several months, the CCSD administration and board have found themselves embroiled in a controversy that occurred four years ago related to the inappropriate actions, suspension, arrest, and dismissal of former employee Marvin Gethers. This matter has attracted the interest of the news media, the county legislative delegation, as well as community members. I would like to address as much as we possibly can today in an attempt to bring closure to some of the issues that continue to circulate.

The board chair and vice chair were not members of the board of trustees when this incident occurred, and I was not superintendent when the incident occurred four years ago. Additionally, there is no evidence this matter was ever brought to the superintendent or board of trustees at that time.

That leaves the current administration and board to go back in time to try and find answers to questions being raised four years later. Here are the steps we have taken and the complications we have encountered:

● In an effort to bring independent investigative expertise, the board employed attorney Wilbur Johnson, with one of the city’s most respected law firms, to conduct an investigation this fall.

● Many of the decision makers at that time and individuals who have important information and insight are no longer with the district. When contacted by Mr. Johnson, they declined requests to be part of our investigation. We do not have the authority to compel them to cooperate.

● Mr. Gethers, as has been publicly reported, is deceased, and maintained his innocence regarding the allegations leveled against him.

● Without the testimony of the deceased Mr. Gethers, and the fact that many of the key leadership decision makers four years ago are no longer in their positions and did not wish to be interviewed, Mr. Johnson was unable to conduct a thorough investigation to answer the questions that are relevant today.

It is next to impossible to determine why certain decisions were made due to the inability to question all the involved parties who were in place at the time.

It is the opinion of the current CCSD administration that Mr. Gethers should not have been allowed to return to work, he should not have received a promotion, and he should not have been honored with an award for his service.

In 2016, two years after the incident occurred, I and the CCSD administration and board were made aware of the arrest and the incident from two years prior. We took immediate action to remove Mr. Gethers from our employment.

As soon as we were aware that Mr. Gethers had accessed child pornography on his computer, the district took extensive steps to notify all the parents of students with whom Mr. Gethers had worked. We did that through letters and phone calls to every parent. In short, when presented with the facts in 2016, the CCSD administration and board took the correct strong action to address the matter.

Attorney Johnson’s summary of his investigation has been shared with the CCSD Board of Trustees, but they were not given copies to keep. We have been made aware by other parties that there are pending investigations, and we are working through appropriate legal channels to make information available. The results of Mr. Johnson’s investigation have been provided to the S.C. Department of Education and delivered to the local Legislative Delegation’s office.

I wish we had complete closure that we could report to you today, but we simply do not. I believe we must protect the integrity of our investigation and others by not making information public at this time. That should not be misinterpreted that we have anything we are trying to hide. We ask for your understanding that with so much that still cannot be corroborated or verified, we are not able to, at this time, bring complete closure to the investigation.

Charleston Co. superintendent apologizes for district’s handling of Gethers case

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