Bill filed to replace S.C. State board

State Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Denmark, filed a bill Wednesday to dissolve and replace South Carolina State University’s Board of Trustees.

In a news release, Sellers said he was responding to growing concerns surrounding the recent FBI investigation and charges of corruption at the historically black public university in Orangeburg.

“We’re not talking about setting up an interim board or appointing placeholders,” Sellers said. “We’re talking about an entirely new board elected out in the open and held accountable to the people.”

Sellers said he expects the proposal to draw controversy and opposition, but he thinks it’s a crucial step to restoring integrity, protecting accreditation and ensuring students receive the first-class education they deserve.

The State newspaper of Columbia, however, reports that Sellers’s bill could actually threaten the school’s accreditation.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools President Belle Wheelan repeated her concerns raised from a similar bill introduced last year that not following state law to remove board members could threaten the school’s accreditation. The bill must state reasons why board members are being fired, she said.

“You’re innocent until proven guilty,” Wheelan said.

Sellers said in an interview that he would add the necessary language when the bill reaches a subcommittee.

Legislation that would have replaced some or all of S.C. State’s trustees failed last year.

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