Kennedy meets qualifications to hold new Charleston Co. school superintendent role

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 1:33 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2022 at 9:36 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The man named to be the superintendent of the Charleston County School District said he has already taken certain personnel actions since moving into the temporary role.

Don Kennedy, who served as interim superintendent since Dr. Gerrita Postlewait stepped down from the superintendent job at the end of the year, is now without the word “interim” in his title.

At a Wednesday afternoon news conference, Kennedy said the new title meant there have not been any “roadblocks” in terms of taking personnel actions, but he did not go into specifics about any change.

“As we are setting goals and making sure that we’re focused on student achievement, I think it’s important for the district, for the community to know that was have someone in this role that is committed to the time that I’m going to be here,” Kennedy said. “So with the ‘interim’ removed, that gets a better that, well, we have the person in place that’s going to move the district forward.”

The news conference marked the first time Kennedy spoke publicly since the vote to name him superintendent. But the role will not necessarily be permanent.

Board members offered no discussion after the motion was made and the public had no opportunity to weigh in on the decision. On the agenda, the topic was labeled “Personnel Matters Pursuant to SC Code 30-4-70(a)(1)”. All but Courtney Waters and Erica Cokley voted to support the move.

The decision means that while he is no longer considered the interim superintendent, the position is still very much transitional.

“Employment term defined as ‘will expire after the Board hires a successor Superintendent and you have transitioned that person into the position’,” the decision reads.

Meanwhile, the board is continuing the search for the next superintendent. Once hired, Kennedy will return to his position as Chief Administrative Officer.

Kennedy has always worked in the administrative office and has no classroom experience. Generally, superintendents are required by state law to have at least three years of classroom experience (among other requirements) – regulations that apply to interim superintendents as well.

Kennedy does not meet those qualifications, but there is an alternative path for non-teachers. William Briggman, chief HR officer for CCSD, says Kennedy now meets those qualifications through the alternative path.

“Mr. Kennedy certainly has the credentials to be in the position of superintendent,” Briggman said. “A superintendent that comes on board who has gone through the alt-route program comes to the table with a different lens on how to run the organization. . . so someone like Mr. Kennedy, who has a background as a certified accountant in addition to being a superintendent now, can help manage the huge budget we have and how the money is spent. A lot of what I have seen from him is asking about return on investment. . . and being accountable to taxpayers.”

A certificate provided by the district and checked against the South Carolina Department of Education shows Kennedy has completed the educator certificate for superintendent leadership. It’s valid starting in July.

“We have an alt-route program for African American male teachers coming into our classrooms. So he is participating in that program,” Briggman said, referencing the Men of Charleston Teach program. “His wife is a 30 plus year veteran teacher. His mother was a teacher. So he has been around teachers all his life.”

Kennedy’s situation is somewhat unique. It takes most school districts 4-6 months to find a new superintendent. CCSD is still looking for a search firm to find candidates for the post after nearly 7 month and it’s likely to take more than a year once it’s all said and done.

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