After meeting behind closed doors for nearly eight hours over a two-day period, the Beaufort County Board of Education voted 6-4 to give Superintendent Jeff Moss a “satisfactory” annual evaluation late Monday evening.
That evaluation covers a yearlong period that included two “inadvertent and unintentional” ethics admissions stemming from allegations of nepotism in the hiring of his wife for a high-paying, district level job and a failed $300 million referendum.
“After much discussion and deliberation, a majority of the (board) agreed that Dr. Moss met or exceeded performance expectations for school year 2016-2017,” the four-page evaluation read. The statement was not read publicly into the record by a board member, but instead distributed to the public and press around 9:45 p.m. The board then adjourned within minutes.
In its evaluation, the board praised Moss for student achievement, staff professional development and readily available communications across the district.
“Negatives for the past school year included some board members expressing their concerns about the S.C. Ethics Commission’s 2016 findings of Dr. Moss, continued shortfalls in certain academic achievement areas and financial transaction transparency,” the evaluation continued.
Board members JoAnn Orischak, David Striebinger, Joseph Dunkle and Christina Gwozdz were the dissenting votes against the “satisfactory” evaluation, a rating that earns Moss an almost $40,000 annuity contribution to a retirement fund of his choice under the terms of his contract. The contribution is 18 percent of his annual $220,000 salary.
Orischak, one of the most vocal Moss critics among the four on the board’s minority bloc, recently called for the superintendent to step down at the end of the school year, an action that prompted the board to issue a statement of regret at its Oct. 3 meeting.
The majority bloc — made up of Earl Campbell, Geri Kinton, Mary Cordray, Evva Anderson, Bill Payne and Cynthia Gregory-Smalls — tends to align with Moss.
A second motion, made by Kinton immediately after the board voted on the evaluation, asked the board to continue its dialogue with Moss on how to best move the district toward its full potential.
“I don’t know why we would vote on that,” Dunkle said after adjournment. “That’s something we should be working on every day.”
He, along with Orischak, voted against Kinton’s motion.
Last year, the board voted 7-2 to give Moss a “proficient” evaluation, with Orischak and Striebinger voting against it, according to Island Packet archives. Meeting minutes, however, record the vote as a 7-0 decision, with two abstentions by Orischak and Striebinger.
Board members touched on his ethics admissions at that evaluation, even though it was outside the period under review.
“Concerning the ethics case involving the superintendent, the board, of course, is pleased that the matter was resolved in early August and is now behind us,” then-secretary Anderson said last November.
In 2014, a year after Moss was hired on a five-year contract, the board chose to extend his contract to 2020.