Several Lexington County school board members don’t seek re-election this year

Tracy Glantz/tglantz@thestate.com
·3 min read

Jan Hammond, the current chair of the Lexington-Richland 5 board and board member of 16 years, is not seeking re-election.

The deadline for school board candidates to file was noon on Monday. Hammond, along with several other Lexington County school board incumbents, did not file for re-election.

Hammond said that while she is “heartbroken” not to run, this school year will be her last in the area. She plans to retire from teaching and will be moving to Chester, where she grew up, she said. She wanted to avoid the need for a special election if she had won re-election this year.

As the board chair, Hammond has led the school board during a tumultuous period. Board members disagreed about COVID-19 restrictions, reached an agreement with former superintendent Christina Melton that called for Melton to resign and approved a non-traditional contract in hiring an interim superintendent that sent payments to his consulting firm and not directly to him.

The district was sued by The State Media Co., which accused the board of not initially voting on the Melton settlement in public. Also, the board sued a former superintendent who filed a complaint with the district’s accrediting agency over the interim superintendent contract. The accrediting agency took no action on the complaint.

Both lawsuits are pending.

The board in June received the initial report of a special audit that identified the potential for “significant fraud, waste and abuse” in the disbursement of district funds from 2016 to 2021. The board forwarded the initial report to state officials.

Last month, an attorney for the district resigned, citing her disagreement with how the board operates.

Earlier this year, Hammond paid a $2,000 ethics fine for using a school district email to call for her school board colleagues’ defeat in the 2020 election, among other things.

Tifani Moore, another LR5 incumbent chosen in a special election last year, is not running either.

However, vice chair Ken Loveless previously announced plans to seek re-election. Loveless is facing ethics charges over his relationship with a construction company that had a contract with the school district.

Loveless has also filed defamation lawsuits against two constituents for criticizing him on Facebook. One of the people Loveless sued, Kevin Scully, filed for the school board. But they won’t face each other because Loveless is running for a Lexington County seat and Scully is seeking election from Richland County.

Current board secretary Nikki Gardner will also be on the ballot in Richland County.

The LR5 school district includes the Irmo, Dutch Fork and Chapin areas.

Meanwhile, all three members of Lexington 1’s board whose terms end this year — Jada Garris, R. Kyle Guyton and Timothy Oswald — did not file. The district encompasses central Lexington County including Pelion and Gilbert.

The candidates for three open seats in Lexington 1 are Harriet Poe Coker, Richard Granade, Dana Homesley, Katie McCown, Andrea Nazarenko, Nicholas C. Pizzuti, Mary J. Price, Chris Rice, Rhys Sage and Beth Shealy.

The candidates for two open seats on the LR5 board from Lexington County are Elizabeth Barnhardt, J. Renard Green, Scott Herring, Ken Loveless and Mike Satterfield. The candidates for two open seats on the LR5 board from Richland County are Nikki Gardner, Joshua Lazenby, Brian Pratt, Kevin Scully and Kimberly Snipes.