Charleston Co. School Board votes to place superintendent on paid leave

The Charleston County School District Board of Trustees has voted to place its superintendent on paid administrative leave.
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 8:40 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2023 at 11:55 PM EDT

CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District Board of Trustees has voted to place its superintendent on paid administrative leave.

During the board of trustees meeting Monday night, the board voted 5-4 to place Superintendent Dr. Eric Gallien on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

The vote was carried out, by Carlotte Bailey, Edward Kelly, Keith Grybowski, Leah Whatley and Pamela McKinney.

The reason behind the investigation or the administrative leave has not been provided.

The board approved the motion to appoint Deputy Superintendent Anita Huggins to “step in to fulfill duties until the investigation concludes.”

“We feel disrespected and Dr. Gallien hasn’t been here 90 days, but you have continued to continue every day to put roadblocks in his way,” one person said during public comment Monday night.

The same five members that voted to put Dr. Gallien on paid leave, also voted to not hire the interim Chief Academic Officer Michelle Simmons. Simmons was just hired over a year ago but has been a part of the district for 24 years.

Many believe the decisions made tonight weren’t based on pedigree.

“It is clear this is racially motivated. We’re seeing it not just here in Charleston, but across the district,” former Charleston County School District educator Sydney Van Bulck said. “I mean across the state. Black superintendents are being fired left and right. I’ve never seen like the dysfunction and disgrace that was held tonight. The complete lack of integrity and transparency and their unwillingness to listen to the community.”

Board of Trustees member Carol Tempel provided the following statement Monday night:

I’m exhausted from fighting the devious actions. I don’t agree with the actions against Dr. Gallien. It’s unjustified.

Earlier this month, a special called meeting was held by the district to discuss Gallien’s contract. The meeting raised questions from board and community members alike.

The members claimed there was “a lack of transparency” over what they called a “secretive special called meeting.”

Board members Courtney Waters, Darlene Dunmeyer-Roberson, Daron Lee Calhoun II and Dr. Carol Tempel called for a news conference on Sept. 11. They said the “Moms for Liberty faction of the board” called for the meeting. The group claimed they “have not been privy to the purpose of the meeting or told why the superintendent’s contract is being discussed.” They claimed other board members “coordinated to set the meeting without informing” the other four members.

Gallien’s contract began on July 1, when he became the highest-paid employee in the Charleston County School District’s history with a salary of $275,000. After the first year, his salary will increase by 2% annually.

Don Kennedy, the district’s former superintendent, was making $246,595. Kennedy succeeded Dr. Gerrita Postlewait, who was making $241,993 when she left the district in 2021.

The next time the board will come together will be Oct. 9 and Oct. 23.