District weighs new contract terms for academic official In-house schools chief candidate was passed over in hiring controversy

Herring

Charleston County School District’s chief academic officer and former superintendent candidate Lisa Herring is renegotiating the terms of her contract, her attorney confirmed, after months of speculation about her future in the district.

Following nearly two hours of discussion in executive session, the school board voted to approve a confidential motion related to an unspecified employee’s “contractual matter” during a special called meeting Tuesday morning.

Board member Chris Collins, who abstained from voting, later told The Post and Courier the motion included several proposals regarding Herring’s employment in the district, such as “some type of settlement” that would allow her to continue working through the end of school year and a “clean buyout.”

“The overall goal was to try to get rid of her. But there was one offer to restore her position,” Collins said.

Herring is represented by Nancy Bloodgood, the same attorney who represented former Superintendent Nancy McGinley during her split with the district last year.

“We’re deciding whether we’re going to accept that or not,” said Bloodgood of Tuesday’s proposals.

The former deputy superintendent for academics, Herring was one of three finalists for the district’s superintendent position earlier this year. She was passed over for the top job in July when the school board appointed former Horry County Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait instead.

“Since the superintendent arrived, there’s been confusion — so much confusion that Dr. Herring has hired an attorney,” Collins said. “The position she was offered was not the chief academic officer; it’s simply a reduced version, a much, much reduced version of a CAO without any authority, very little responsibility and very little impact on education.”

Herring’s contract was last amended in November following McGinley’s resignation. She was promoted to deputy superintendent for academics and given a $4,200 monthly supplement to her salary. Under the terms of her contract addendum, Herring is “entitled to continue employment as in a position comparable to her former role as CAO” as soon as the board hires a new superintendent or in the event she that “is no longer designated as DSFA.”

Herring did not return requests for comment Tuesday. Bloodgood said she expects her client will decide whether to accept the board’s proposals within the next two days.

Postelwait’s controversial hiring provoked intense criticism from elected officials, civic leaders and black community activists, in particular, who accused the school board of overlooking Herring, an African-American woman, due to her race. Postlewait’s appointment has since drawn a bevy of protesters to school board meetings who have charged the board with racism and acting unethically.

“I think we sent a message to her (Herring) that we as a district do not value her. Otherwise they would have not treated her the way they did,” said Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott, a vocal critic of the school board and supporter for Herring’s candidacy. “We seem to be hell-bent in our district to not deal with the issue of diversity and to lose someone of the caliber of Dr. Herring speaks very poorly of us.”

Reach Deanna Pan at 937-5764.