Florence District 1 chairman waits 3 weeks to notify board members of racially insensitive emails

FLORENCE SC (WBTW) – The Florence School District One School Board met Thursday night to address the resignation of longtime board member Glenn Odom.

The meeting lasted three hours, and at times, was tense amongst board members.

Odom served on the school board for more than 25 years. He resigned on Oct. 2. He said he resigned because he moved from the area that he represented. However, the district said Odom sent an email using racially insensitive words referring to other board members.

“There is not place in the district where this speech is tolerable,” said Chairman Berry Townsend on Thursday night.

Board member Alexis Pipkins questioned Townsend on whether or not he acted against board policy when he notified the Vice Chairman about the emails and not the entire board.

“You met with a board member outside of the scope of the board,” said Pipkins. “That is a breach of board policy.”

Townsend said he was notified of the emails just eight minutes after the first email was sent on Aug. 29.

“What date did you notify the rest of the board members?” Pipkins asked Townsend.

Townsend said he notified the board members of the emails nearly three weeks later on Sept. 20, beginning with the African-American members first.

Board member Pipkins asked Townsend why the emails were not brought up at the Sept. 14 school board meeting. Townsend responded by saying he hoped to have a resolution by then.

“Mr. Odom took longer to come to the conclusion that he should resign than I was comfortable waiting, so I began notifying each of the members personally,” said Townsend.

Townsend said he told Odom if Odom did not voluntarily resign then Townsend would take the necessary steps to make it happen.

There were moments during the meeting where Townsend called the board to order because members were speaking over each other and out of turn.

Townsend said when he spoke to each board member individually, they expressed confidence in how the situation was handled. Townsend said he stands by the actions he took.

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