ROBESON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - There are big changes happening at the top of the Robeson County School District.
Tommy Lowry, the former Robeson County School Superintendent, was bought out of his three-year contract on Tuesday's regular scheduled school board meeting. The vote was 6 to 4 in favor of the buyout.
Craig Lowry, a school board member, sat down with WMBF News on Thursday. He was one of the four school board members who disagreed with the decision.
"No one could give me any reason that he has done wrong. I think it was unethical and wasn't the right thing to do," Lowry said. "We're all the same if you have a situation like this, there should be a discussion and it should be open...and bring forth what's wrong, what's the issue, why do you need to get rid of this person, why do they need to be dismissed from their job. That should have been a discussion that was held - it was not held."
The board members who voted to go in a new direction preferred not to comment on the matter. Lowry expressed why he believes the decision is so wrong. He said, "[Tommy Lowry's] been with our system 38 years as a teacher, coach, principal, and I worked in the system as well as a principal, and he was an outstanding administrator at the school, and doing an excellent job as Superintendent."
Lowry said during the same board meeting, a second motion was also passed to hire a brand new Superintendent: Thomas Graves, an educator from Virginia. Lowry said he has not met Graves, and he does not know much about him, and doesn't think right now is the time to bring someone out of state in. "We're going through the devastation of Hurricane Matthew, and this is the worst thing to happen to the school district next to that," he said.
The district is paying nearly $200,000 for Lowry's buyout clause. Lowry explained then the district will hire a new Superintendent on a $180,000 a year contract plus benefits, and an additional six months of work. To start out with, Lowry said the district is at almost $400,000 to pay for two people when only one is working.
"We are always talking about how we have no money in the system or money is low, we have issues and we have needs, and still can supposedly come up with money that will probably be out of local funds to pay this extra money," Lowry said.
When asked if the entire district will be impacted by this decision, Lowry said the answer is yes. "Absolutely that's who you are affecting, the 24,000 or so children in our system, that's whose lives who are being affected directly," he added.
As far as how Tommy Lowry is handling all of this since it happened, Craig Lowry said, "He's doing pretty good - as well as he could. He knows he did the best he could do for this system or feels guilty with anything he has done, and feels like he's done what the best job he could do."
The next scheduled school board meeting will be on February 14 unless decided otherwise.