Those poor forecasters who predicted a quiet storm season for Charleston did not take into account Hurricane Dot.
On Monday, Dot Scott, the Charleston NAACP president, vowed that her group would not “move on” and accept the Charleston County School Board’s decision to hire Gerrita Postlewait as the new superintendent.
Anyone who knows Scott realizes that is not an idle threat; it’s a promise.
So get ready for some stormy weather.
See, the NAACP — and, frankly, several local officials — are perturbed about the school board’s hiring process, its methods and its choice for superintendent.
They believe that because several board members met or spoke with Postlewait before the process started, the fix has been in since Day One.
Fair enough, because that’s politics. It’s all about perception. To some people this just looks bad. The board should have realized this, seeing as how they are technically sort of politicians.
So yes, they have a perception problem and, to be sure, Scott will not help them fix that. But she’s not likely to get anywhere with her protests, either. The board has made its decision.
And even if the process was ugly, it was legal, and they are sticking to it.
All this started when board member Michael Miller revealed that several of his colleagues had met or talked privately with Postlewait before the official interview process started. But when people — including NAACP officials — complained, the board refused to start over.
Then Postlewait made the final cut, and people started screaming the fix was in.
But wait, it got worse.
Finally, nine people were killed at Emanuel AME Church a week before the scheduled meet-and-greets with the candidates. The district did not postpone the interviews, despite advice from some outside sources to do so.
People said it looked insensitive.
Board members have avoided responding to Scott, but here’s what they say privately: They considered postponing the interviews, but feared if they waited a week or so the rescheduled interviews would conflict with the funerals.
That was advice from district employees and officials who have ties to the church.
Also, some board members feared if they waited too long, they would not have a new superintendent in place when the school year begins in mid-August.
Now, you can argue that’s not important — but it’s what a majority of board members wanted. And they point out that even after the death of Emanuel pastor and state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, the General Assembly went about its business as usual the next day.
Is that the same? Well, it’s a matter of perception.
The NAACP’s critics say they are just mad the board didn’t hire associate superintendent Lisa Herring.
They say that when Nancy McGinley was hired as superintendent from within the building, the NAACP said the district should have done a national search. This time, they said there was no need.
Of course, the group did not approve of McGinley’s hiring years back, but when she and the board had a less-than-amicable parting of the ways last fall, the NAACP had McGinley’s back.
Privately, some board members say that, yes, in retrospect, no one should have talked to Postlewait beforehand. But they talked to Herring, too (which is different, board critics say; Herring worked for them already).
Honestly, those points are all moot now. It’s over.
“Why do they think their opinion of the process is more important than us finding the absolute best person for the job,” Board Chairwoman Cindy Bohn Coats said.
Truth is, Herring would not have gotten the job anyway. Members say she is a good administrator who cares about kids, but they wanted someone who had experience running the district. In fact, the Virginia candidate was a close second choice.
That means ultimately this is just a fight over process and diplomacy.
Scott has every right to be upset; the process did not look good. But Postlewait is the superintendent, and even if the NAACP keeps protesting, that is unlikely to change.
If the group wants to be mad at anyone, they should confine their ire to the board. Postlewait is an innocent bystander here.
Maybe we should see how she does before calling for her head. After all, McGinley caught a lot of community grief in the beginning, but people came to love her.
See, sometimes perceptions change.
Reach Brian Hicks at email@example.com