Arthur Ravenel Jr. can't remember exactly what he said last month during the heat of the moment at the school district office, but he admitted Friday that he used the word "bitch," and he regrets it.
Earlier in the week, he denied using the word.
The Charleston County School Board member maintains that he did not threaten schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley's job, but he said Friday that McGinley and the whole school board, including himself, should be replaced if county schools continue to fail. He said the last reporting period shows the district has 26 unsatisfactory schools.
Ravenel, 81, of Mount Pleasant said he used the word "bitch" when he and board member Ray Toler went to the district office last month. They wanted to make sure that an agreement for the Charleston Charter School for Math & Science to use the former Rivers Middle School building was on the board's meeting agenda. Ravenel became upset, he said, when he learned that it wasn't.
When pressed about the context in which he used the word, he said: "I probably used the word 'bitch' a couple of times, but I didn't say it in any particular context, and I can't remember particularly what I did say.
"After the dust-up, she (McGinley) got busy and got it reconciled and prepared for a vote and it (the agreement) got on the agenda. We took it up the following Monday at the meeting, and it passed," Ravenel said. "If we had not gone down there and expressed our extreme concern ... I don't believe it would have gotten on the agenda. It worked out well for Math & Science. They're not going to die, and they're going to open on time."
McGinley did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday night.
McGinley informed board members
that Ravenel was at the district office and told a district employee that he had gotten rid of one "bitch" and would get rid of another, referring to former schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson and McGinley, several board members said.
In an interview earlier this week, Ravenel repeatedly denied referring to the superintendent as a "bitch."
On Friday, he said the word is not profanity. "It means a troublesome woman or a female dog, or if it's used as a noun it means to complain," he said. "And, of course, I was doing a lot of bitching."
Still, Ravenel said, he is regretful.
"I should not have used it," he said. "I regret it, and I did apologize to her (McGinley). We have agreed to move forward together."
In an interview aired Friday night on WCSC-TV, Ravenel defended himself against accusations that he threatened McGinley's job.
"I made her," Ravenel said.
Ravenel later in the evening clarified for The Post and Courier that he meant that he was the board member who made the motion for a vote to promote McGinley to the superintendent position.
"I recommended her, so I want her to succeed," he said. "We all want her to succeed."
The recent incident wasn't the first time Ravenel's comments have landed him in the midst of controversy. Ravenel received national media attention in 2000 when he was a state senator. A battle was brewing over whether the Confederate battle flag should continue to fly over the Statehouse dome.
Ravenel spoke at a pro-Confederate battle flag rally in Columbia and told an enthusiastic crowd of 6,000 people that the Legislature would never give in to a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People boycott.
"Can you believe that there are those who think that the General Assembly ... is going to ... knuckle under, roll over and do the bidding" of "that organization known as the National Association for Retarded People?" he said.
Afterward, he said that he mixed up his words because he was scheduled to meet with the S.C. Association for Retarded Citizens the next day and he mistakenly meshed the two groups together. He later apologized, but only to people with mental and physical challenges.