Marino resigning from Berkeley school board

The Berkeley County School Board member who has been the most critical about Superintendent Rodney Thompson and recent goings-on in the district is resigning his position by the end of the year.

Scott Marino, who ran unopposed for the District 9 seat last year after his mother, Donna Marino, did not to seek re-election, said Wednesday he is moving out of state.

He plans to announce his departure at Tuesday’s board meeting at Macedonia Middle School.

“I cannot pass up a great employment opportunity for my family that will take us to Texas,” said Marino, who works for Santee Cooper. “With mixed emotion, I plan to resign my seat on the Berkeley County School Board prior to the end of the year.”

Board Chairman Kent Murray said Wednesday, “We had been told he was accepting a job in Texas, but he has not notified us yet. We wish Scott and his family well in their future and we thank him for his service to the Berkeley County School Board.”

In his year on the board, Marino has established himself as a district watchdog, raising questions about spending taxpayer dollars on construction projects and legal representation for Thompson and two other district employees who are under a criminal investigation.

He was also the only board member to rate Thompson as “highly unsatisfactory” on his annual performance evaluation in May, and with board member Sheldon Etheridge voted against giving Thompson a pay raise, bringing his salary to $163,800, and extending his contract to June 30, 2016.

In announcing his plans to move, Marino said he believes Thompson “has failed our district and our children” and the district “deserves better leadership.”

Thompson, who is out of town on business, said, “I have not spoken to Mr. Marino so I’m unaware of his decision to leave his position as a board member. ... Although I strongly disagree with his assessments of the leadership of the school district, I respect that every board member is entitled to their opinion.”

Marino’s wife, Lindsey Marino, is assistant principal of the district’s Westview Primary School and was the state Association of School Administrators’ 2013 Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year. The couple has three children.

Marino is the brother-in-law of Josh Whitley, a Berkeley County lawyer who instigated the State Law Enforcement Division’s investigation into use of district time and resources to promote last year’s $198 million construction campaign. Whitley and Columbia lawyer Robert Goings also represent former board member Terry Hardesty in a freedom of speech lawsuit against Murray for changing the board’s public speaking policy this year.

Marino’s seat will be filled by a special election for District 9 residents about three months after his departure, said Berkeley County Election Commission Director Adam M. Hammons. The school district last held a special election in 2008 after District 2 representative Dan Kingsbury moved.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.

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