CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Gov. Henry McMaster has appointed nine new members to the South Carolina Governor’s School of Science and Mathematics board after members voted last week to conduct online-only classes in the fall.
McMaster ordered, just days before the board’s July 17 vote, all public school districts in the state to give parents the option to send students to school five days a week.
When asked about the governor’s choice of replacing the board, his office responded.
“The governor didn’t fire anyone – he simply appointed new members to the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics Board of Trustees to fill three vacant seats and replace six members who were serving in recently expired terms,” Brian Symmes, Communications Director at South Carolina Governor’s Office, said.
We asked if the sudden change in leadership was because the former board planned for the school “to go back virtually, despite the governor asking for in-person instruction.”
Symmes never answered the question.
We were informed by Art Tompkins, now a former member of the board, that he was abruptly told on July 22, that his services were no longer needed.
“I humbly served my alma mater for eight years at the pleasure of two governors of South Carolina, and I was officially notified via email this morning that my services on this board were no longer deemed necessary by this governor,” Tompkins said.
According to Symmes, the former board ‘terms’ were as follows:
- The 1st district seat was vacant
- The 2nd district seat was filled in March of 2018 and that term expires 6/30/2021 (current)
- The 3rd and 4th district seats expired 6/30/2020
- The 5th district seat expired 7/1/2019
- The 6th district seat was appointed 8/9/2017 and expires 6/30/2021 (current)
- The 7th district seat was vacant
- 2 at-large seats – including the chairman’s seat – expired 6/30/2020
- 1 at-large seat was vacant
- 1 at-large seat expired 8/28/2018
Tompkins said, however, certain seats had been vacant for some time and other members just kept fulfilling their duties.
“None of the five members with expired terms resigned and I was never asked by the Governor if I wanted to renew or not,” Tompkins said. “Generally, the chair and the president of the school present a list of nominees to the governor’s office for consideration; however, I do not believe that any of the new appointees were from the most recent list of nominees. In any case, it is within the governor’s rights to make these appointments in whatever manner the governor chooses. Any additional comments by me would only be speculative regarding the governor’s intent.”
We reached out to most of the former board members of the GSSM.
“My term on the GSSM Board ended on June 30, 2020. I had served for two consecutive terms (8 years. I had not expected, nor desired, to be appointed for another term),” Christian Przirembel, the the vice president emeritus for Research and Economic Development at Clemson University, said. “I received a cordial thank you note for my service from the governor’s office today. It was an honor for me to serve on the GSSM Board.”
We have requested the reopening plans submitted to the South Carolina Department of Education regarding the reopening the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics and the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.