JASPER COUNTY

Deputies take Jasper school board member for psychological evaluation

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comJuly 13, 2012 

A Jasper County School District Board of Trustees member was taken to an area hospital by police this week for a psychological evaluation, but the board member claims it was an attempt to keep him from a state Board of Education meeting.

Randy Horton, who represents part of Ridgeland, was taken Wednesday from his sister's home on Forest Avenue in Ridgeland by Jasper County sheriff's deputies.

According to the incident report, Chief Roy Hughes and Cpl. Gary Sons took Horton to Coastal Carolina Hospital after 12:30 a.m.

Hughes said the Sheriff's Office has had "several" calls from Horton's family about concerns about his health in the last week. He declined further comment.

The report says the family believes Horton might be a danger to himself or others.

Horton's sister, Anne Hodge, was at her home when Horton was taken to the hospital. She declined comment.

Attempts to reach Horton's wife, Charlotte, were unsuccessful. Horton says he's fine but admits he has been working hard to find out more about what he believes is wrongdoing in the school district. In the past few weeks, he hasn't slept much, he said. He has seen doctors for psychological evaluations, he said, including a recent week-long stay at a Charleston clinic that Horton said his family took him to.

According to the report, Horton went willingly with deputies to the hospital in Hardeeville. Horton said he felt threatened, so he went.

A nurse at the hospital did not complete the evaluation because Horton was not under arrest and there was no court order to evaluate him, the deputies' report says.

Hospital spokeswoman Carolyn Grant said the hospital cannot perform a psychiatric evaluation without a court order. She would not confirm Horton was brought to Coastal Carolina Hospital and declined further comment.

Horton was then taken back to his sister's home, according to the report. From there, he says, he drove straight to Columbia for Wednesday's S.C. Board of Education meeting, which included a hearing on the district's plan to improve Ridgeland Middle School to prevent the state from taking over the troubled school.

At that meeting, Horton spoke against district practices and accused district officials of financial misconduct. What he said had little to do with the possibility of the state taking over Ridgeland Middle.

He apologized to the board for not wearing a suit, noting law enforcement kept him away from his home.

In recent months, Horton has claimed to have seen evidence of credit card fraud among school board members and district officials. He has also raised concerns about the district's budget and hiring practices. He has been a vocal opponent of the consolidation of Hardeeville and Ridgeland middle schools and Hardeeville and Ridgeland high schools. He was ejected from a meeting in June when he tried to voice his concerns.

Horton thinks the deputies were trying to stop him from attending the state school board meeting. He said other county school board members and his relatives don't want him to raise his concerns with the district.

Horton said he plans to fight what he sees as a violation of his rights.

Related content

  1. Hardeeville parents sue school board to stop consolidation; July 11, 2012
  2. Some Jasper school board members push to overturn consolidation; June 15, 2012
  3. Jasper schools official fights to be heard by his board; June 9, 2012
  4. Jasper County school board member ejected from meeting; June 11, 2012

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