Sunday, March 25, 2012

Greenville board has adjourned without decision

News comes from Greenville tonight that after a day-long debate among school board members over the selection of a new superintendent, the board adjourned at 11 p.m. without a decision.

And it appears that a decision by Rock Hill school administrators to hold classes during last year's Martin Luther King Jr Day has emerged as an issue in the public discussion, if not the private one.

This matters because one of the three finalists, Lynn Moody, is presently the superintendent in Rock Hill.

More than 13 hours after the Greenville County school board went behind closed doors to choose a new leader, Rock Hill schools Superintendent Lynn Moody and the other two finalists were still wondering who would get the job.

With plans to announce a new chief Saturday, Greenville’s 12-member board gathered at 9 a.m., then met in private to deliberate. Hours passed.

They ordered lunch. Hours later they took a break. At 7:45 p.m., Greenville News reporter Ron Barnett tweeted live from the meeting: “The school board just ordered supper. No end in sight to the deliberations over the superintendent selection.”

At 11 p.m. the board adjourned without a decision, according to the Greenville News.

“This is certainly the most important decision a board has to make. They should take all the time needed. No matter what happens, it's a win-win for me,” Moody said Saturday.

It’s not clear what board members discussed, but they were expected to address local ministers’ concerns over a decision by Moody and the Rock Hill school board to hold classes on Martin Luther King Jr. day last year.

Ennis Fant, a pastor and co-chairman of the African-American Pastors Leadership Conference, told the Greenville News he and other ministers aren’t necessarily opposed to Moody’s candidacy but want the issue “put on the record” and discussed given Greenville County’s long and contentious history in adopting a holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader.

Donald Ray Smith, a pastor and co-chairman of the ministers’ conference, said that preserving the MLK holiday “remains a high priority for us.”

Rock Hill schools’ calendar, which is drafted by a committee then approved by Moody and the school board, listed the MLK holiday as a makeup day for bad weather in the 2010-11 school year.

If schools didn’t have to close for bad weather before the holiday, students would have been off that day. But a powerful winter storm early in the year closed all schools in York, Chester and Lancaster counties for a week.

Most years, Rock Hill schools are closed on MLK Day, while teacher workdays, when students don't attend, are considered weather makeup days.

But last year, Rock Hill teachers lost workdays after the school board voted to send employees on unpaid leave on those days to help make up for state budget cuts.

Because state law requires districts to set aside at least three bad weather makeup days, Moody said, the school board had voted to designate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, along with Presidents Day and Memorial Day.

Two Rock Hill area civil rights groups, including the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, protested.

“We're in an unusual bind,” Moody said at the time. “When you put furloughs in our calendar, it forced only three days that could be used for makeup.”

Moody echoed those comments in explaining the issue to Greenville officials, calling the dilemma a “perfect storm.”

Rock Hill teachers on the MLK holiday were encouraged to lead lessons about King, and students who wanted to stay home in observance of the holiday were given an excused absence.

More than 1,800 of the district’s 17,300 students missed school that day.

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