Civil Rights group accuses school district of racist hiring practices

The Charleston County School District confirms it has completed an internal review of its hiring process, but the report has not been made public.
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 11:00 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 5, 2022 at 11:43 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Racial Justice Network is demanding a public investigation into the hiring practices at the Charleston County School District.

The civil rights organization claims the district has passed over black candidates for promotions for less qualified white candidates.

“In my 40 years history, this is one of the most blatant, grievous racial discrimination [cases] I’ve ever seen in Charleston,” RJN spokesman Elder James Johnson said. “The Racial Justice Network will not sit back and allow this kind of discrimination in Charleston County Schools. There may be protests and demonstrations if the civil rights organization is not satisfied.”

In front of the school district’s headquarters in downtown Charleston, the RJN held a news conference alleging numerous instances where the district had posted positions requiring college degrees, then taken those postings down only to repost them without the degree qualification.

The RJN says those positions were changed so they could be filled by white candidates groomed for the roles.

“Three white employees were promoted to the position of Officer without a college degree. The positions pay $104,000 a year and were not advertised,” Beverly Gadson-Birch with the RJN said. “Yet, we have black qualified experienced employees with degrees who were passed over and not given an opportunity to apply.”

The group says they are investigating at least 10 cases in the Facilities Maintenance Department where black candidates were passed over for less qualified white candidates. However, the group has not provided any documents or individual accounts to support the claim.

Johnson says they sat down with former Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait in September with these allegations and the superintendent promised an internal investigation. He says the investigation is complete but the current interim superintendent, Don Kennedy, has not released the report.

CCSD released a statement confirming the existence of an internal investigation and that it would not be released:

We can confirm that the CCSD administration received internal complaints from some employees and the Racial Justice Network. We followed up with an internal investigation and then engaged attorneys from the Cozen O’Connor law firm to conduct an outside review from a neutral perspective. We will not discuss or release specifics relating to employees or allegations from the April 5, 2022, press statement issued by the Racial Justice Network, except to say that we have reviewed all concerns and have reviewed our processes. As a result, we are making appropriate changes to our hiring processes to ensure that our procedures are sound.

Charles Glover serves on the District 23 Constituent School Board and is the national vice president of the RJN. Their complaints stem specifically from the Facilities Maintenance Department.

“Our education system is supposed to teach us the right way and here they are just showing how racism is still in the department itself,” Glover said. “That’s why our education is failing now, because of poor leadership.”

Glover wants to see everyone in the human resources department removed.

Along with a full investigation, the RJN says everyone who was promoted above a more qualified candidate should be fired and back pay given to the more qualified candidate.

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