COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The South Carolina Senate has approved a bill clarifying the power of the state education superintendent when she takes over schools or school districts considering to be failing.
The bill had been debated on and off for more than a week and it nearly became the first test of new Senate rules that make it easier to bring issues to a vote.
The bill allows the superintendent to fire a failing school district’s board with the State Board of Education’s permission and work with local lawmakers and the governor to appoint an interim school board.
Sen. Mike Fanning opposed the bill, offering a number of changes that weren’t approved this week. The Democrat from Fairfield County who considers himself a champion of education was the subject of last year’s lone cloture vote.
Current Superintendent Molly Spearman asked for the bill to get many of her current procedures into law when she takes over a failing school or district, said Senate Education Committee Chairman Greg Hembree, R-Little River.
Spearman told him that a school board allowed to stay in place after a state takeover “can be a genuine obstruction to a community that is trying to turn a school board around,” Hembree said, comparing it to a football team trying to tackle its own player.
Most of the 2021 bill was part of a bigger education bill that passed the Senate 41-4 last year before the pandemic cut the session short.