COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Just days after the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics board voted to start the school year virtually, Governor Henry McMaster appointed nine new board members Monday, replacing six members and filling three vacant positions.
The six members who were replaced were serving under expired terms, according to the governor’s office. This comes nearly a week after the governor held a news conference asking all school districts in the state to offer five-day, in-person instruction, which is a request several teachers and parents do not agree with. State Superintendent Molly Spearman also took issue with the governor’s announcement.
“Education is a state and local issue,” Spearman responded. “To say that everybody has to return back immediately in the same old way in school, those kind of decisions should not be made by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. Those decisions and what we’re doing in South Carolina are best made here in South Carolina.”
Art Tompkins was the Third District board member, and he served on the board of his alma mater for eight years. He found out Monday through an email that he was being replaced.
“None of the five members with expired terms resigned, and I was never asked by the Governor whether or not I wanted to continue serving on this Board. Generally, the Chair and the President of the School present a list of nominees to the Governor’s office for consideration; however, I do not believe that any of the new appointees were from the most recent list of nominees,” wrote Tompkins in an email to WIS.
Tompkins also noted that the at-large seat held by Dr. Joe A. Griffin, III, expired on June 30, 2019, but Griffin wasn’t replaced until Monday. Carolyne Williams, former superintendent of Barnwell County Schools, served on the board for more than 20 years, and she was the acting chair.
Tompkins explained it is within the governor’s rights to make these appointments in whatever manner he chooses, and he does not want to speculate regarding the governor’s intent.
“Either his timing was purely coincidental or was in response to a recent Board vote. In any case, my disappointment was that the Foundation and many other sources knew of this change before the Board members and School Leadership,” Tompkins noted.
WIS reached out to the Governor’s School for comment and was told to contact the Governor’s office regarding these sudden board changes.