Charleston Co. Schools narrows down superintendent search

This comes despite community concern about the search
The Charleston County School Board is narrowing down the list of superintendent finalists with their search firm, BWP and Associates.
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 5:18 PM EDT|Updated: May. 10, 2023 at 1:28 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School Board is narrowing down the list of superintendent finalists with their search firm, BWP and Associates, which is assisting them during this process.

BWP says they had a total of 44 applicants, with 19 of those being former superintendents. The firm narrowed this list down to seven.

When comparing applicants to districts in Savannah and Charlotte, Dr. Kevin Castner, on their board of directors, says Charleston has had the most applicants by far that have this experience.

“It also, I think, is one of the strongest profiles that I think I have been able to work with because you went into just a little bit more depth when you personalized it,” Castner said.

This search started in January, according to their board chair, Pamela McKinney, and the district has since surveyed the community on what they’re looking for in a leader. However, not everyone in the community thinks their voices are heard.

Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III, the vice president of religious affairs at the National Action Network, a nationwide civil rights organization, says he thinks this process has happened far too quickly. He says there’s no way the board could make a fair and accurate decision on a new superintendent in this short amount of time if they don’t already know who they’re selecting.

Rivers says the new superintendent needs to be inclusive to all children, has demonstrated a record of closing the achievement gap of white children versus Black or brown children and loves kids all around.

“Not that Black children get treated better; they don’t get treated worse,” Rivers said. “And we are fighting to make sure they don’t get treated worse. Right now, in Charleston County, until very recently, they were being treated worse.”

Charleston County School District Superintendent Don Kennedy is one of the 44 applicants BWP has considered for this position. Rivers says he’s one of the only superintendents that’s made any sort of change to closing the education gap for the district.

“I’m not saying it has to be Don Kennedy, but it can’t be worse,” Rivers said. “And you certainly shouldn’t be able to do it in two months.”

McKinney says the experience of closing the education gap is a requirement for this job. She says the board believes if the best candidate shows up in the next 30 days, they will pursue it. If not, they will prolong the process.

The board just came out of the executive session and unanimously approved for BWP to move forward with conducting interviews of the candidates. They did not say how many candidates will receive interviews.