S.C. attorney general questions Charleston Co. School Board on potential FOIA violations

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 11:28 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2022 at 5:53 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina’s attorney general is asking the Charleston County School District Board of Trustees to explain complaints that the board has not complied with the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

Attorney General Alan Wilson sent the letter on Tuesday asking the board to provide information about meetings that took place on July 18.

During that meeting, parents, teachers and advocates spoke out against a proposal to divide the district’s policy manual into two – one governing the board and the other governing the district. The move was regarded by many who attended as an attempt to give the superintendent broad authority while relieving the board of its powers and responsibilities.

Wilson says parents in the district have alleged the board violated FOIA by not providing notice of meeting agenda items. Live 5 News first reported on the possibility of wrongdoing on July 19 when Board Member Cindy Bohn Coats accused her fellow board members of adding items to a meeting agenda without 24 hours’ public notice.

In the letter, Wilson asks for a general description of how the district complies with FOIA and a detailed response regarding the July 18 committee of the whole and district board meetings.

“If these materials confirm that a FOIA violation occurred—which appears to be the case based upon the allegations presented—we strongly urge you to reschedule the prior committee and board meetings, publish agendas in advance of those meetings, and revote in compliance with the relevant FOIA provisions. Additionally, if these materials indicate that FOIA has been violated, this Office is prepared to take further legal action,” Wilson said in the letter.

Charleston County School Board Chairman Eric Mack and the superintendent for comment have not yet returned requests for comment.

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