Charleston principal now on leave was promoted despite active investigation

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 6:33 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Charleston County School District principal who was promoted on Friday then placed on administrative leave on Tuesday is now the subject of an investigation from the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission.

Documents state the agency has been investigating an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against newly-promoted Septima P. Clark Academy Principal Carolyn Anderson for more than two months.

Anderson was promoted to that position on Friday despite the complaint after serving as the school’s interim principal since the beginning of the school year.

In the complaint filed with the SCHAC on Feb. 16, a male employee accuses Anderson of unwanted touching and sexual comments and gestures. He says she would give details about her sex life with her husband and even find administrative tasks for him to do just to be close to her.

The employee also alleges that Anderson discriminated against him on the basis of his gender by requiring him to intervene in student fights, even after he suffered an injury that he is still recovering from months later. He claims female teachers were not held to the same standard.

Carolyn Anderson, the principal of Septima P. Clark Academy was placed on leave pending an...
Carolyn Anderson, the principal of Septima P. Clark Academy was placed on leave pending an investigation, the Charleston County School District has confirmed.(Charleston County School District)

After the employee heard Anderson was promoted on Friday, he sent an email to all of the Charleston County School Board members and interim superintendent Don Kennedy on Saturday, laying out his allegations and including the official EEOC complaint. In that email, he attached a number of provocative images he says came from Anderson’s social media and what appears to be screenshots of security footage inside the school. He says the images show Anderson is unfit to be a leadership position.

“The Interim Principal does not represent what Professional Leadership represents, appears, or is expected in any of Charleston County Schools. Her conduct at best is unbecoming of a principal, egregious and reprehensible,” the email states.

The school district has not commented on why Anderson was put on leave or who is responsible for promoting her.

“As stated previously, Septima P. Clark Academy’s principal is currently on administrative leave related to personnel matters for which we cannot comment while the investigation is ongoing,” the district said in a statement. “We understand the questions of timing caused by the principal’s appointment announcement and the subsequent administrative leave, but that does not change the necessity of completing a thorough investigation.”

It is also unclear if the district was even aware she was the subject of an EEOC investigation, despite documents showing the district was served on Feb. 21. School Board Member Kristen French said she was unaware of the allegations or the promotion.

“My understanding is that staff are investigating the situation and any internal breakdown in communication regarding the EEOC complaint,” French said.

Board members are not required to review or approve principal promotions.

The district had 30 days to respond to that EEOC complaint. The Human Affairs Commissions says the district has not yet responded and the next step in the case would be to send them a subpoena.

This is still an open investigation with the SCHAC, and so far, they have not made any findings.

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