Lexington-Richland 5 school board censures outgoing member for breaching privacy rule

·2 min read

The Lexington-Richland 5 school board censured an outgoing member for talking publicly about a meeting that happened behind closed doors.

The school board voted 4-2 to censure former member Ed White during a Monday meeting. White had spoken publicly about discussions that happened during a June 14 executive session, sent a statement to news reporters and criticized several board members for allegedly creating a hostile work environment and pushing out outgoing Superintendent Christina Melton.

Lexington-Richland 5’s policies prohibit board members from talking publicly about matters discussed in executive session, board chair Jan Hammond said during the meeting.

“Our board should operate within its policies,” Hammond said. “We should not operate as rogue board members without consequences.”

Rebecca Blackburn Hines, a school board member who voted against the reprimand, said there wasn’t much point in censuring a school board member who has already resigned. White is technically still on the board until July 14, but White’s nametag and chair were empty during the Monday meeting.

Hammond accused White of making false statements about the board since Melton’s resignation, but when pressed by Blackburn Hines on which of White’s comments were false, she did not elaborate.

The board has since chosen Akil Ross, a former national high school principal of the year, to serve as superintendent until the district can find a long-term superintendent. Ross, who will take over July 1, was seen at the meeting shaking hands and taking notes.

While this was the first opportunity for public comment at a board meeting — and though Melton’s departure has already sparked a protest — only four people spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.

One of those was Dutch Fork High teacher Ali Hendrick. Two other teachers in the district stood at the microphone each holding bundles of notes, artworks and more, all dedicated to thanking Melton for her time at Lexington-Richland 5.

“To say many of us were shocked after the June 14 meeting would be an understatement,” Hendrick said.

However, Hendrick encouraged those listening to look past the boardroom and into the classroom, where educators are “more than committed to focusing on our students.”

“A lot of people have mistakenly become to believe what D5 is is what happens here on Monday nights,” Hendrick said, referencing board meetings which are regularly scheduled for Mondays. “What happens on Monday is only part of what happens in the district.”

Vote breakdown

In favor of censuring Ed White

  • Catherine Huddle

  • Ken Loveless

  • Jan Hammond

  • Nikki Gardner

Against censuring Ed White

  • Matt Hogan

  • Rebecca Blackburn Hines