A petition asking superintendent Jeff Moss to return thousands of dollars associated with his annual evaluation has gained the backing of one of his bosses.
JoAnn Orischak, a Hilton Head Island representative on the Beaufort County Board of Education and a vocal critic of Moss, has signed the Change.org petition calling for the superintendent to return his annual annuity contribution. Under his contract with the Beaufort County School District, Moss is entitled to a $33,000 contribution this year, or 15 percent of his $220,000 salary, because the school board approved his “proficient” evaluation last month.
Orischak, who voted against the evaluation along with board member David Striebinger, said she was motivated to support the petition after seeing several residents of her district, southern Hilton Head Island, sign and share it.
She also wanted to help inform people about the contribution to Moss’ annuity — a type of retirement fund — because it was not included in The Island Packet’s article about his satisfactory evaluation (though that information was added online the next day.)
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Orischak acknowledged Friday that it may not have been the proper way to show her disapproval of the superintendent, but that she stands by her decision.
“It represents a very strong sense in our community and I support their voice in this,” she said of the online petition, which had about 230 signatures Friday afternoon. “Whether or not it’s appropriate for me as a board member to express that is irrelevant in this instance, I think.”
The petition, created by Citizens Advocating Responsible Education co-founder Richard Bisi, argues that Moss’ annuity contribution was a reward for “bad behavior,” referencing his two recent ethics violations for participating in his wife’s hire to two different district positions.
Orischak said Friday the petition was “a mere suggestion, and it’s one that I can’t imagine will be heeded on our superintendent’s part.”
But her signature may present its own problems. Bisi’s argument includes opinions, like that Moss acted “covertly” when he altered the district’s nepotism rule around the same time as his wife was hired, or that it was “comical” for the S.C. Ethics Commission to describe his violations as “inadvertent and unintentional.”
But board members are obligated to refer complaints back into the system, respect decisions of the full board — such as the 7-2 vote that approved Moss’ evaluation — and not take actions which undermine those decisions, according to the body’s governance manual. Members also “will not publicly express individual negative judgments about the superintendent,” its policies say.
Board chairwoman Mary Cordray and Moss did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
Orischak said that she has not heard from any fellow board members about her signature, and isn’t worried about their reactions.
“Pretty much everything I do ruffles my fellow board members’ feathers,” she said.