Beaufort News

No date yet for election to fill Bill Evans' Beaufort County school board seat

No date has been set for a special election to fill the seat vacated Tuesday night by the resignation of Beaufort County Board of Education chairman Bill Evans.

Board vice-chairwoman Mary Cordray, who will lead board meetings in the interim, will soon notify the Board of Voter Registration and Elections of Beaufort County of the vacancy, after which the elections board can begin the process to fill the District 2 seat, which covers portions of Beaufort, Lady's Island and Fripp Island, school board attorney Drew Davis said Wednesday.

The board will vote at its Nov. 3 meeting to elect a new chairman, according to Davis.

Evans, who could not be reached Wednesday, stepped down just three days after fellow board member JoAnn Orischak requested he do so in a critical email on Saturday.

As cause, Orischak cited two alleged "omissions" Evans made while detailing to the S.C. Ethics Commission the hiring and subsequent resignation of Darlene Moss, wife of Jeff Moss, last month.

According to Orischak's email, which was sent anonymously to The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette, those omissions were:

  • The full board was not notified by Evans about Darlene Moss potentially applying to a district job. While Evans had been told about it by superintendent Jeff Moss, the other 10 members had not been told.
  • Several board members, upon learning Darlene Moss was recommended for a district job, questioned whether her employment would violate any rules. Both Jeff Moss and Davis answered no, according to Orischak's email.
  • Jeff Moss said Monday he does not recall any board questions about rule violations. But board member Michael Rivers agreed with Orischak on Wednesday that the conversation took place.

    Evans' term was set to end in 2018. The former board chairman was elected in 2010 after retiring from the district, where he served 24 years.

    He was not present for the public session of Tuesday night's board meeting, and left immediately after an hour-and-a-half executive session during which the board discussed calls for him to give up his chairmanship.

    Evans handed his letter of resignation to Davis, who in turn gave it to Cordray, Davis said. The vice-chairwoman informed the board at the end of the meeting during a second, brief closed-door session and then shared Evans' decision with the meeting's few remaining attendees.

    Minutes later, Cordray declined to share her thoughts on Evans' decision while Earl Campbell said only that it was wrong.

    Reached Wednesday, board member Paul Roth agreed with Campbell, adding that calls for Jeff Moss to resign as well are misguided.

    "Any resignation of a man of (Evans') caliber and popularity -- and he was well known and beloved by many -- is hurtful, and it's too bad that it happened," Roth said. "We're saddened by it but on the other hand, he saw no choice."

    Another member, Joseph Dunkle, said he had supported Evans stepping down from his leadership role, but was shocked that the district veteran left the board altogether.

    Though Evans left after the first executive session Tuesday night, "I was under the impression we were going back into executive session at the end of the meeting to continue the discussion," Dunkle said.

    Dunkle added that he sought clarity early Tuesday on whether the board had the authority to discipline or demote a single member, and why a discussion about doing so needed to occur out of the public eye.

    He says he hasn't received an answer, but plans to get one.

    Orischak said she was also surprised Evans left the board, though she agrees with his choice.

    "He did the right thing," she said.

    She said she has received a deluge of emails and phone calls critical of Jeff Moss, Evans and the entire school board since the public learned of Darlene Moss' hiring. She's doubtful Evans' leaving alone will satisfy residents.

    "I don't see this going away for Dr. Moss," Orischak said.

    Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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