- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Delays in hearing teacher appeals by the Charleston County School Board are costing taxpayers in South Carolina’s second-largest school district hundreds of thousands of dollars.

During the past three years, the district has spent almost $650,000 because of delays hearing state-mandated appeals for 15 teachers whose contacts were not renewed.

That prompted the school board to vote Monday night to continue to use third-party hearing officers to stand in for board members during the appeals.

“I think it’s been a great change,” school board member Kate Darby told The Post and Courier of Charleston (https://bit.ly/29YtsV2).

A majority of the nine-member board must gather to hear the appeals and sometimes months went by before enough members could gather. Board members would only receive their standard per-meeting pay of $25 for the hearings that resemble court proceedings with lawyers for both sides and witnesses testifying and can take several hours.



“Gathering a quorum who could do all those things … to go through this process that isn’t very clearly defined for laymen, that created a backlog,” school board chairwoman Cindy Bohn Coats said.

Some teachers waited almost two years to have appeals heard. The bulk of the money - about $485,000 - was spent on their salaries as if the teachers were still in the classroom.

School board member Michael Miller cast the only vote against using the third-party officers.

“That’s one of the responsibilities of the board, to hold these hearings,” Miller said.

The third-party officers are attorneys charging an hourly rate, but the school board said their analysis of the program’s first year showed they saved money because they expedited the hearings.

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Information from: The Post and Courier, https://www.postandcourier.com

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