Community hosts ‘vigil’ to rally behind Charleston Co. superintendent
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Community members came together to have a peaceful conversation about the next steps to take after the Charleston County School District superintendent was placed on administrative leave.
Around 20 people gathered outside of the Charleston County School District headquarters for a “wide awake vigil” to rally behind Dr. Eric Gallien Tuesday evening.
The Charleston County School Board of Trustees voted 5-4 to place Gallien on paid administrative leave during Monday night’s board meeting.
Those five board members also voted against hiring Michelle Simmons as the chief academic officer. Simmons has been serving in that role on an interim basis. She was hired over a year ago but has been a part of the district for 24 years.
During the rally, the group passed around a clipboard to share each other’s contact information. Those in attendance all had different connections throughout the political and social realm and wanted to do everything in their power to see more transparency.
Former president of the Health Advisory Committee Lisa Ross was at Tuesday’s gathering. She was also relieved of her duties Monday night without prior notice.
“It’s been an honor to serve on the Health Advisory Committee, and I’m very proud of the progress that we’ve made in the last few years and I’m very scared we’re going to lose all of progress rather quickly,” Ross said. “It’s become conservative rather quickly. Unfortunately, conservative means in this domain, [that] people’s values, is the wanting of people to follow their values rather than following what works for most children based on scientific evidence.”
The group discussed the fact that the five board members who voted against Gallien and Simmons are all endorsed by Moms for Liberty.
“I’m just really hoping that the citizens of this city, this county, are paying attention. Because something is happening here and it’s not pretty, so we need to pay attention. So, I invite everybody to keep their eyes open and notice what’s going on in the school board because we cannot let it happen without holding them accountable,” attendee Rev. Rebecca Hinds said.
Those five people who are endorsed by Moms for Liberty all voted to hire Gallien in July.
“If I had to guess I do think there is a faction of folks who are trying to undermine democracy and dismantle public education. [And] that is abhorrent, anti-American, anti-Democratic and we can’t let them get away with it,” Hinds said.
School board member Dr. Carol Tempel provided the following statement on Tuesday night’s “vigil”:
It means a lot to have people in our community show up to support public education in Charleston. The vigil was a time for us to support each other and shine the light on the governance practices of some board members who are manipulating policies and meeting agendas without transparency.
The next time the board will come together will be Oct. 9 and Oct. 23.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.