The Post and Courier has appealed a judge's ruling allowing the Berkeley County School Board to keep Superintendent Chester Floyd's performance evaluations a secret.

Circuit Judge Roger Young ruled last month that the individual evaluations are protected by attorney-client privilege.

The newspaper filed a notice of appeal Tuesday with the state Court of Appeals.

"We appealed it because we don't think the motion for summary judgment was either correct or fair. We never had a chance to present our case," Executive Editor Bill Hawkins said. "This is an issue much too important to the citizens of Berkeley County to just let it sit there. We'll see if we can get a ruling that benefits the public's interest."

School district attorneys argued it was necessary for the board to enlist the help of an attorney with the evaluations because some newly elected members had created a contentious environment.

Board Chairman Doug Cooper said he's read the judge's order and he doesn't understand why the newspaper continues to pursue the matter.

"I don't understand what the premise is — it's to keep us spending money, I guess," he said. "I'm not a legal guy, but it sounds fairly frivolous to me."

Jay Bender, the attorney representing the S.C. Press Association, said the decision has statewide implications.

"What we have here is a situation where the lawyers are helping the individual board members avoid accountability," Bender said.

Bender said he expects the organization, as well as newspapers and individuals from across the state, to request to join the newspaper's appeal.

Ken Childs of Childs & Halligan, which did the evaluations and represented the school board against the lawsuit, said he had hoped the newspaper would not appeal.

"I think the decision of the trial court is rock-solid," Childs said. "I had hoped this litigation would come to an end, but I certainly recognize the prerogative of the paper to challenge it."

To date, the school district has spent $47,267.33 defending the district in this case.

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