Chris Collins dresses down school board members

This is an email Charleston County School Board member Chris Collins sent to his colleagues and Superintendent Nancy McGinley this week, complaining about Post and Courier coverage of his church's business dealings with the school district.

Fellow board members I received a call from Diette at the P&C this morning asking me why did our church pay rent for July 2013. Now the Superintendant is out of town, so then who is communicating with P&C without board approval? The board has only one person that speaks in behalf of the board on official business that has been presented to the board; one of us is taking matters into our own hands. The only way Diette knows that we paid our rent yesterday, is that someone from the board called her and told her. These are the type problems we have when people abuse authority, take matters in their own hands and bring needless liability upon the school board at tax payers expense. If the board did not authorize statements to the press, shouldn't we hold our peace and respect one another. If the board did vote to make a statement to the press we all should be informed and have a copy of such statements as official board business. One of us on purpose is trying to damage the church's reputation by speaking partial truths, limited facts and painting one sided pictures to give a negative image in the press. Is this the role of the school board?

Chris Collins is upset with his colleagues on the Charleston County School Board.

Of course, most of them are not real wild about him either these days, so it evens out.

Collins is mad because Diette Courrege Casey reported this week that he gave the school district a check for $664 to cover his church's July rent at Charlestowne Academy.

The problem is, the board — including Collins — voted to terminate the church's lease as of June 30. But Collins and his church refuse to budge, and are now forcing the district to evict them.

Out of all this, Collins thinks the problem is board members ratting him out to a reporter. In an email this week, Collins accused his colleagues of leaking information (which they didn't) and said the board should vote before making any statement to the media.

“These are the type problems we have when people abuse authority, take matters into their own hands and bring needless liability upon the school board at tax payers (sic) expense,” Collins wrote.

That's off the charts ironic.

You know, this is no time to be subtle. Collins needs to go.

Filing a complaint?

The school board gave Collins' Healing and Deliverance Church a lease on the unused school building a couple of years ago.

They shouldn't have done it, but they were trying to keep the peace and Collins was pushing for it.

Which he shouldn't have done in the first place.

Of course, it was a disaster. The church used the building more often, and for more uses, than the lease allowed. And a couple of times, they didn't pay the rent on time. Not very Christian-like.

It finally came to a head when the board voted in November to end the lease. Even Collins voted for that.

But now he's decided to fight the very district he serves, and won't say why.

“When I'm ready to talk, I'll give you a call,” Collins said Thursday.

He needs to be talking — and explaining — right now because Cathy Hazelwood, deputy director and general counsel for the state Ethics Commission, says this is a situation that certainly “bears further scrutiny.”

The only question here is who's going to file the ethics complaint: one of Collins' constituents, or somebody on the school board?

A bad trend

Collins has a disturbing track record of using his position to influence things that affect him.

He made parents at Hursey Elementary mad earlier this year when he fought an effort to turn the whole school Montessori.

His kids go there.

This church thing is something else. The district and the board are as much to blame for letting it happen, but now that the school board has voted to end this relationship, Collins should stand down.

“I've never seen a situation where an elected person has disregarded propriety, ethics and even the board on which he serves,” says School Board Chairwoman Cindy Bohn Coats. “He is simply focused on what he wants for himself.”

Collins is right about one thing. There is someone on the school board who is abusing authority, taking matters into his own hands and costing taxpayers money.

It's him.

He should save the school board the politically unpalatable decision of removing him from office and resign.

A school board member is supposed to do what's best for the kids, not himself.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com