New superintendent needs full board’s support

Gerrita Postlewait visited the Charleston County School District offices in June. (Wade Spees/Staff)

The same Charleston County School Board that voted 5-4 to hire Gerrita Postlewait as superintendent of the Charleston County School District last week gave her a two-year contract this week by a 7-0 margin. The board was right to provide its affirmation for the new superintendent as the district heads into the next school year.

Dr. Postlewait’s new job will be hard enough even with a unified board.

The contract vote, however, was notable for two absences. Board members Michael Miller and Chris Collins weren’t at the Wednesday meeting and didn’t cast their votes. They were among the four trustees who voted against hiring Dr. Postlewait over two other finalists, including Dr. Lisa Herring, CCSD’s deputy superintendent for academics.

Mr. Miller cited a scheduling conflict, telling our reporter that he is ready to work with the new superintendent to move the district forward. “For me, it was never personal against her,” Mr. Miller said. “I’ve always had a problem with the process of the search.”

Mr. Collins, in contrast, said his absence from the meeting was in protest of the board’s earlier vote to hire her. He said he would rather have voted for a candidate with “a clean slate, not controversy.”

But the main controversy over her hiring was about the board’s process, not the candidate. From all accounts Dr. Postlewait, who formerly led the Horry County School District, is fully qualified to do the job.

The selection process was imperfect, for sure. For example, public meetings with the three candidates were lightly attended because they were held the week following the attack at Emanuel AME Church in which nine people were slain. Though there was board consensus on the schedule, in retrospect, those meetings should have been delayed.

But there is no delaying the coming school year, and the new superintendent, the school board and the CCSD staff need to coordinate their efforts to achieve better outcomes for district students.

It’s time for the public education community to join forces.

Wednesday’s board action recognized that priority.