Florence One community group calls for resignation of superintendent and board chairman

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – A Florence District One school board member and activist group Lifeline Plus asked for a change in leadership after recent actions taken by the school board.

James Williams, the chair of the organization says the group is concerned for the future of the district.

“Our district will grow, it’s going to grow. But it needs effective leadership,” said Williams. “What we need most is clear, concise and effective leadership which we don’t see happening. There is a void of at the present.”

Board member Elder Alexis Pipkins says the board chair and attorney violated more than 10 board policies.

Some of the policies include:

“To meet with a board member in reference to an issue is providing counsel, then trying to get that member to resign again for action. That is a violation of that policy,” said Pipkins.

The Chair and Superintendent were at the press conference Dr. Randy Bridges recorded the statements on his personal phone.

“We’re having too many conversations on the sidewalks. Many of these issues, if they are issues, should be discussed in the boardroom,” said Dr. Bridges.

Dr. Bridges says the group has called for his resignation twice within the last year. He also says he did not breach the district policy by sending the racially insensitive email to the chairman first instead of the full board.

“In this particular situation… it was so shocking to me that my initial reaction was to just to send it to the chairman just so he could see it,” said Dr. Bridges.

Chair Barry Townsend was also at the meeting he says he did not breach any policies.

“I’ve taken great pains to seek legal advice before I made any moves to ensure that not only was I following board policy but also that everything I was doing was legal,” said Townsend.

Townsend says the district and state policy are not the same which is why Odom did not immediately resign after he moved.

Townsend says board policy says board member should resign immediately once they leave their district. State law allows the board member to stay in place until next election, November 2018 or until legislative delegation appoints someone temporarily.

“That policy would have had to been followed by the board member. Not by me. That requires the board member to resign. It doesn’t require the chairman to do anything,” explained Townsend.

Townsend said he will not step down.

“I was elected by the board to this position. I will not be bullied into doing anything by one board member, said Townsend. “If the board decides that I’m not providing effective leadership and choose to elect someone else then I will gladly serve under that chairperson.”

Townsend says he has the power to dissolve and reappoint members for the facilities committee the new committee will consider the needs of each school for a bond referendum.

Another committee will revise district policy to align with the state policy once it’s appointed.