Some Berkeley County School Board members questioning ethics of firing, hiring superintendents

One day after the majority of the Berkeley County School board voted to have new leadership, some members are still questioning how and why it happened.
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 5:15 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2022 at 8:19 PM EST
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MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCSC) - One day after the majority of the Berkeley County School board voted to have new leadership, some members are still questioning how and why it happened.

David Barrow, who up until last night was the board chair, says he was blindsided that other members were going to bring up the firing of Deon Jackson much less hire a new superintendent last night until they entered executive session.

“How can you terminate somebody and then in the next breath hire their replacement?,” Barrow questions. “There had to be some negotiations, some discussions, and I’m just very concerned about how that transpired and I’m very angry.”

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The Berkeley County School Board voted Tuesday night to part ways with Jackson 16 months after he started. Jackson was fired after a 6-3 vote. Board members Yvonne Bradley, Dr. Crystal Wigfall and David Barrow voted against his termination.

“How do you do all of that in one night?” Bradley asks. “Fire and then rehire? That means you had ample notice to hire someone. You knew in advance you were going to fire so you could go out and hire. That to me means yes – the ethics committee may need to look into that. I don’t know if we have to specifically file a formal complaint – I don’t know. But I’m sure something unethical, possibly illegal, happened.”

No reason has been given for Jackson’s termination and Bradley says she was told they would find out at the next board meeting.

“How do you fire someone first and then come back and give cause?” Bradley says.

Barrow says the decision was unconscionable and recalls that Jackson’s latest evaluation was one step away from outstanding.

“He was well above demonstrating, well above continuing – he was proficient in every area,” Barrow says.

Barrow adds everything about the decisions last night was irregular.

“It’s very disappointing to me that the new members, who had just been sworn in, would buy into the fact that the superintendent was incapable of running the school district – or whatever the rationale was – that was never stated,” Barrow says. “But why they would summarily and immediately terminate the superintendent without ever having any involvement with the school district or with him personally. It just doesn’t make sense. Unless there was an agreement in advance to do this with them being involved – which would certainly be unethical.”

When asked the reason for terminating both Tiffany Richardson and Deon Jackson’s contracts, Mac McQuillin, the board’s new chairman, sent the following statement Wednesday night.

“We understand that the public wants and deserves answers regarding Mr. Jackson’s and Ms. Richardson’s termination, but the prospect of litigation and the fact that their termination involve personnel issues limit our ability to comment fully at this time. However, we expect to be able to share our rationale in the future, and we are confident that we made a decision that is in the best interest of the District and its students.”

Live 5 has reached out to all the other board members about the decision but have yet to hear back from most of them.