Belcher out in major Charleston Co. School District shake-up

Karolyn Belcher, Chief Academic Officer for the Charleston County School District, will be...
Karolyn Belcher, Chief Academic Officer for the Charleston County School District, will be replaced, according to a news release issued Thursday.(CCSD)
Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2022 at 5:53 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The woman primarily responsible for turning around some of the state’s most struggling schools has been replaced.

Karolyn Belcher, Chief Academic Officer for the Charleston County School District, will be replaced, according to a news release issued Thursday.

This comes a months after a tense public meeting that devolved into raised voices and a brief recess between board members and Belcher. As CAO, Belcher was responsible for the district’s turnaround efforts, primarily centered around the district’s Acceleration Schools.

Those 14 schools were selected in 2019 as the key to improving scores on state readiness tests and closing the achievement gap between white and Black students.

READ MORE: The path to rehabilitate failing schools marked by many initiatives

Those efforts in the last two years have largely proved ineffective and were the topic of the heated back and forth between Belcher and school board members. Some board members – like Courtney Waters – praised Blecher’s efforts to get the district headed in the right direction. Others, most notably Eric Mack and Kristen French, challenged her results. Belcher was on the record saying they expect results in the third year of the turnaround initiative and should start seeing results next year.

READ: Charleston Co. School Board meeting heats up over testing data

Belcher joined the school district in January 2020. Before coming to Charleston, Belcher was the Interim Chief Talent Officer for the Alliance College-Ready Public Schools in Los Angeles. She started her career as a seventh-grade science teacher and has about 30 years of experience.

Belcher was the third highest-paid employee at CCSD behind the superintendent and chief operating office. Belcher was making $199,756.80.

Michelle Simmons will serve as Interim Chief Academic Officer.

The district also announced that Anita Huggins is taking over as Interim Deputy Superintendent of Schools, Jennifer Swearingen as Interim Associate Superintendent for Elementary Learning and Channa Williams will be the Chief Financial Officer after serving as the interim.

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