Saturday, July 25, 2015

P & C on Postlewait Sheds Light on Cronyism in Hiring New Superintendent

Columbia attorney Ken Childs had the largest role in the hiring of his friend Gerrita Postlewait for the new superintendent of Charleston County schools. He realized his opportunity as he negotiated McGinley's buy-out.

Childs has had Postlewait in mind for the position for more than a decade, if we are to believe reports in the paper. He orchestrated meetings of various CCSD board members with her (and no other) prior to the Board's discussion of requirements for a new superintendent, carefully keeping the numbers down each time so that the Open Meetings law would not apply. Well, he is an attorney.

He also omitted Board members Miller and Collins from these meetings because those two, who did not belong to the go-along-and-get-along crowd, had already put forward Lisa Herring's name. Considering that McGinley had not previously been a superintendent and was promoted to the position without a search, the Collins-Miller proposal was not so far-fetched.

When this omission saw the light of day, Childs called it "regrettable," as in regrettable that the public found out. Unfortunately for him, both omitted members were black. Clearly, his objective was to maneuver Postlewait into the position while keeping boosters of Lisa Herring (also black) in the dark. Who added Bobby's name remains a mystery, but most likely he allowed his name put forward so that the Board would not appear split between Herring and Postlewait. If Coats's recent statements about needing someone with prior superintendent experience are to be believed, only one of those three--the one hand-picked by Childs--qualified.

After the omission of Collins and Miller became known and Bobby withdrew, Childs again manuevered the whole process. He convinced Coats that the School Boards Association, filled with his and ex-President Postlewait's friends, restart the process. After a whirlwind day or two, what happened next was predictable: Collins and Miller held out for Herring and other Board members held out for Postlewait (they had been well primed), To cover the impasse,a sacrificial goat was included in the final three names.

Childs succeeded in his original goal. Board Chair Cindy Bohn Coats still doesn't understand why so much fuss has been made about the process.

If the Board had conducted a proper search without Childs's manipulation, Postlewait might very well have been selected anyway. That the Board was so easily manipulated is problematic--and its members really do owe an apology to Lisa Herring.

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