Berkeley School Board ....

File - Thompson

The Berkeley County School board members violated the state Freedom of Information Act when they decided in executive session recently that Superintendent Rodney Thompson’s performance exceeds expectations, according to South Carolina Press Association attorney Jay Bender.

“It sounds like they came to some consensus in the executive session that is improper,” Bender said.

The law allows public bodies to discuss personnel matters in closed session, but prohibits them from making decisions.

After the executive session, the board voted to give Thompson a 5 percent pay increase starting July 1, bringing his salary to $157,500 a year; extend his contract by one year, to June 30, 2015; increase his monthly automobile allowance from $850 to $1,100; and for the district to make a contribution to an annuity of his choice in an amount equivalent to 5 percent of his current base salary.

This action comes a year after the district finally allowed the newspaper to review the board’s 2007 individual evaluations of then-Superintendent Chester Floyd, who received a “commendable” review from five of nine board members. The district had refused the paper access to the evaluations, resulting in The Post and Courier filing a lawsuit that ultimately cost the district more than $73,000.

Read more in tomorrow’s editions of The Post and Courier.