CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District has paid out more than $600,000 in settlements since the beginning of last year.
Last year when we asked the district for a list of cases they’d settled, our Freedom of Information Act request went ignored for seven months.
We did stories about it at that time and had to get our attorneys involved.
This year a similar request took about a month, which was within the legal guidelines for FOIA.
“I hope it continues," Sen. Marlon Kimpson said. "There are more questions than answers that we’re getting this day and age over there at 75 Calhoun Street and it’s good to be able to commend them when they’re improving.”
One major change was hiring an employee named Edward Boyd to specifically manage FOIA requests from the media and public.
“I think the superintendent did a great job on that so I compliment her on that particular change,” School board member Kevin Hollinshead said.
So what do the settlements actually show?
A total of more than $673,000 paid out since Jan. 1, 2018.
One was a $75,000 settlement to Coach Eugene “Bud” Walpole related to the so-called Watermelon Scandal in 2014.
Plus $150,000 was paid out to a former teacher at Liberty Hill alternative school. Sandra Lemen filed a complaint in federal court and says she experienced sexual harassment and intimidation at the hands of students.
Injury payouts totaled $280,200 for eight students and one adult.
The district doesn’t usually admit fault in these cases, but chooses to have its insurance pay a settlement to avoid the cost of a legal battle.
“You have to make corrective measurements to make sure issues don’t reoccur," Hollinshead said. "You would not be a fiduciary organization if you did not make improvements to make sure things like that never happen again.”