- 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.


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

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