Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


CCSD replaces Health Advisory Committee members

Superintendent Gallien and CCSD Board of Trustees reach settlement
Rev. Nelson Rivers III speaking at the Nov. 13 CCSD Board of Trustees meeting.

The majority Moms for Liberty backed faction of the Charleston County School District Board of Trustees, consisting of Carlotte Bailey, Keith Grybowski, Edward Kelly, Pamela McKinney, and Leah Whatley, is increasingly defining itself as a group guided by secrecy and conservatism.

After weeks of tension and speculation, the Board voted 5-4 to put Superintendent Dr. Eric Gallien on paid administrative leave, replacing him with interim Chief Transformation Officer Anita Huggins. In the same meeting, the same five trustees voted to not hire Michelle Simmons, the school district’s interim Chief Academic Officer.

Following a lawsuit of the school district by Gallien for breach of contract, on October 27 the Board voted 8-0 to pay for twelve months of Gallien’s salary over a year’s span as well as provide an extra $84,000 for “non-wages” and attorney fees, totaling to over $350,000. In return, Gallien dropped his lawsuit.

The reason for Gallien’s suspension and termination by the Board is still unknown. Before his termination, Gallien was accused by a CCSD employee of creating a “hostile work environment,” with no further details known. An investigation was conducted on the claim, though Gallien was put on leave before it could finish. Attorney Allan Holmes, who conducted the investigation, has stated that the employee’s claim has no evidence to support it.

During and after Board’s efforts to remove Gallien, the five Moms for Liberty backed trustees have worked to make vast changes to CCSD’s Health Advisory Committee. The purpose of the committee is to review health and sexual education in the district. The committee consists of medical professionals, teachers, parents, students, community members, and clergy members.

On September 25’s Board of Trustees meeting, the same meeting in which Gallien was placed on leave, the Board voted 5-4 to pass a plan to appoint twelve people to the thirteen person Health Advisory Committee and remove five members. On October 23, four members of the Health Advisory Committee that had been removed, Dr. Bonnie Cleaveland, Dr. Lisa Ross, Rabbi Greg Kanter, Catherine Kaiser, as well as the parents of committee member Penn Doucher, sued the Moms for Liberty backed trustees for violating Board policy and the Freedom of Information Act. Despite a motion to remove him, student Penn Doucher remains on the Board.

Replacing the removed members are medical professional Thaddeus John Bell, medical processional Ryan Byrne, parent Maria Nesteroad, and clergyman Rev. Nelson Rivers III. Filling vacant positions are community member Amy Black, teacher Christina Braun, student Jackson Darby, clergywoman Denisse Mogollon, teacher Mary Kate Rumph, and community member Patricia White.

Trustee Ed Kelley stated at the CCSD Board of Trustees meeting held on November 13 that abortion was being taught at schools against South Carolina law. Additionally, he claimed that in schools, “varioua sex acts are also spoken about positively,” in addition to gender identity. According to Holly Kut, the CCSD curriculum does not contain any of these topics. Despite the Health Advisory Committee not writing the curriculum, Kelley’s and other Moms for Liberty backed trustees’ suspicion is likely responsible for the overhauling of the committee.

The motion for Rivers’ appointment to the Health Advisory Committee was introduced by Trustee Darlene Roberson, a member of the liberal minority faction. Rivers’ appointment passed 4-3. His appointment followed his speaking during the public comment period, in which he condemned the Moms for Liberty faction for using the Bible to justify hate towards LGBTQ+ youth. After speaking past his allotted time expired, he was escorted out of the meeting by police before being allowed to return.

In the same fashion as their termination of Gallien and denial of a job to Simmons, the Moms for Liberty backed trustees making changes to the Health Advisory Committee have refused to disclose their reasoning.

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