Beaufort News

Academy for Career Excellence board fires one employee, reprimands two leaders

The Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence board fired one employee and reprimanded for poor judgment the school's top two administrators in a unanimous vote Thursday.

Earl Campbell, chairman of the ACE board, would not name the employee who was fired.

Director Chris Dinkins and assistant director Karen Lee were ordered to participate in improvement plans, to be monitored by Beaufort and Jasper county school districts officials.

The public career center is jointly owned by the two districts and serves students from both counties.

The board's actions came at the recommendation of the two districts, which in April began looking into financial and personnel issues at the school. The investigation was prompted by concerns raised by employees, Campbell said.


The board approved a list of 20 actions Thursday as a result of the investigation.

Among them, the school must:

  • Turn over all financial and human resources operations to the school districts for at least a year.
  • Investigate unauthorized supplemental pay to staff.
  • Revise the school's employment application to ask potential employees about criminal background and previous terminations or resignations.
  • Have all staff undergo a national criminal background check, if no check has been done.
  • Reorganize administrative responsibilities after developing new job descriptions.
  • Review employees' benefit records and retirement accounts to make sure payments have been secured.
  • Ensure employees who participated in the investigation are not subject to retaliation.
  • The board will also notify the S.C. Law Enforcement Division of the districts' findings and ask it to investigate further.

    SLED confirmed last month a similar request was made by the Jasper County Sheriff's Office.

    A SLED spokesman could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.


    Dinkins declined comment on the actions taken by the board, but his wife and a teacher at the school spoke publicly in support of him at the meeting.

    Lee said she found it "reprehensible" she was made aware of action taken against her at a public board meeting without prior warning. She said she has worked at the school for 28 years and has no blemishes on her record.

    "I would think that given the years I've worked at this school, someone would have had the courtesy to let me know there was a problem with something I was doing or not doing," she said.