School board candidate receives inquiry from Coalition for Kids

Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 4:58 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2022 at 6:35 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A powerful and influential lobbyist group that has impacted who sits on the Charleston County School Board has allegedly begun reaching out to candidates for the November election.

District 8 school board candidate Darlene Dunmeyer-Roberson says a representative from Charleston Coalition for Kids reached out to her three times requesting a meeting to discuss her campaign.

“They contacted me through email and my campaign has not responded,” Dunmeyer-Roberson said. “I do not have any intention of responding to them. We are focused on supports from constituents and our educators and community members within District 8 who are vested in our community and our neighborhood schools in our rural areas.”

The Charleston Coalition for Kids released a statement emphasizing the importance of the upcoming election. However, they would not confirm whether or not they are actively reaching out to candidates.

There are critically important elections this fall when all 9 school board seats are on the ballot. As an organization of parents, grandparents, educators, and business leaders, we demand positive improvement in Charleston County School District

Dunmeyer-Roberson says she wants to make sure the ideas to fix struggling schools in her district are coming from the communities feeding into those schools.

“Our campaign speaks for itself,” Dunmeyer-Roberson said. “We have raised over $10,000 in two months from grassroots donations from community members, educators and those who support the schools in rural areas. We want to make sure that we are the ones leading and guiding our efforts and that our voice here in the rural area is heard from the grassroots.”

Charleston Coalition for Kids came under fire in the last election cycle when they aired attack ads against sitting board members Kevin Hollinshead and Chris Collins.

Both ended up losing their seats.

Hollinshead filed a lawsuit against the organization in response. That lawsuit was dismissed, but Hollinshead’s lawyer is appealing the decision, saying it was dismissed on a technicality and the appeal will be successful. Hollinshead is currently running unopposed in District 4.

“They want to control the people making the decisions,” Hollinshead said. “These guys want to represent poor, impoverished kids, but then you’re showing that you want to take down Black leadership at any means necessary. The bottom line is because there is a lot of money in Title 1 schools.”

In a statement, the organization says:

The Charleston Coalition for Kids expects leadership in our school district to provide a world-class education for every child in Charleston County. Our community deserves School Board Members that are urgent about ensuring excellent public schools for all families, no matter their zip code.

Charleston Coalition for Kids has been extremely successful in getting endorsed candidates elected to the school board in the past two elections. In 2018, Eric Mack, Cindy Bohn Coats, Kate Darby and Joyce Green were all endorsed and elected. In 2020, Courtney Waters and Lauren Herterich won with their endorsement. Three other candidates supported by the coalition were not successful. All but three sitting board members were endorsed by the coalition.

Hollinshead calls the group shady and a proponent of third-party managed schools, like that of Meeting Street Schools.

The coalition will not release the names of its donors or the amount of money donated according to their website citing a need to stay focused on improving the education in Charleston.

We felt that attention had shifted from that goal to the names on the list of supporters that have made our mission possible from Day One.

The coalition’s website implies its goal is to hold public officials accountable.

The Charleston County School Board manages $920 million, the largest public budget in our region, and most community members have no idea who serves on the Board. These leaders are elected to hire and hold the Superintendent accountable and make decisions that directly impact the futures of our 50,000+ students. The School Board is also responsible for listening and responding to constituent concerns in a timely and effective manner.

Candidates for the school board are vetted through a questionnaire. If the questionnaire shows the candidates have similar goals, they are given an interview as well, according to their website.

You can find more on Charleston Coalition for Kids’ stances here:

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