Berkeley County Superintendent Rodney Thompson said today that the future of the district's 31,000 children could be jeopardized due to recent efforts to distract voters from the real concerns of building needs in the county.
Josh Whitley, a Daniel Island lawyer with Smyth Whitley LLC, contends that the district has been disingenuous in its attempt to pass the school improvement referendum.
Thompson believes that district employee activities during school time relating to the bond referendum have been intended to be within the scope of preparing informational materials, conducting public meetings, or responding to news media or citizens inquiries concerning the referendum.
“To the extent that any of the District's 4,100 employees sent any e-mails that one might interpret as attempting to influence the school improvement referendum, either in favor of it or in opposition to it, we regret any misinterpretation,” Thompson said. “If any District employee sent an e-mail on District equipment that could be interpreted as being in support of the referendum, I'm sure their enthusiasm was generated by what they thought was in the best interest of the students of Berkeley County. Our intentions have been to provide information and access to all parties within the SC Ethics guidelines.”
“The opposition to the effort has run out of fruitful arguments and is using items not related to how to finance solutions to overcrowded schools instead of presenting a credible alternative,” Thompson said. “Passing the referendum on Tuesday is the right thing to do for our children and our economic future as a region.”
“It is interesting that the Berkeley Citizens for Sustainable Education questions ethics rules,” John Matthews, Yes4Schools campaign co-chair, said. “They have not filed with the SC Ethics Commission and use the Smyth Whitley LLC firm address yet have not been transparent about their campaign records.”
The Berkeley Citizens for Sustainable Education has failed to file a statement of political organization with the SC Ethics Commission. According to Matthews The Yes4Schools campaign has filed all reports legally with the SC Ethics Commission (reports are online and accessible at www.ethics.sc.govwhich has not been the case for Berkeley Cittzens for Sustainable Education.
“Berkeley County children deserve a high quality education in a safe environment and I have faith in the future of our students,” Thompson said. “The distraction created by the opposition has not stopped the momentum of the Yes4Schools committee and I encourage voters to vote on what they feel is in the best interest of children in Berkeley County.”