Crime & Public Safety

Beaufort County schools official faces DUI charge after Bluffton traffic stop

Dereck Rhoads, Beaufort County School District’s chief instructional services officer, was arrested late Wednesday night in Bluffton and charged with driving under the influence.

District spokesman Jim Foster confirmed Thursday morning that the district was aware of the arrest, but said no decision has been made as to any disciplinary action Rhoads could face.

“There is a process that’s the same for any employee,” he said. “We gather the facts, meet with the employee, and then make a decision (on discipline) based on that individual situation.”

Foster said Rhoads “is not currently on administrative leave, but that’s something that will be discussed as part of that decision-making process.”

Foster could not say Thursday morning when district officials plan to have these discussions.

Dereck Rhoads Beaufort County Detention Center

According to a Bluffton Police Department report released Thursday, Rhoads was pulled over after an officer allegedly spotted him driving “at a high rate of speed” on May River Road near the intersection of Whispering Pine Street.

When the officer approached Rhoads’ vehicle, he “could smell the strong odor of alcohol,” the report said.

Rhoads told the officer he had not been drinking. However the officer “noticed that Rhoads’ eyes were glassy and blood shot,” according to the report.

He reportedly swayed and lost his balance during a field sobriety test, the report said.

Rhoads was ultimately arrested for driving on the influence — and given a written warning for speeding — and transported to the Beaufort County Detention Center, the report said.

He was released on his own recognizance just before 10 a.m. Thursday after posting a $992 bond, court records show.

Rhoads, who reports directly to Beaufort County School District superintendent Jeff Moss, was not at his district office Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

A former Bluffton Middle School principal, Rhoads was hired in 2012 to serve as the district’s instructional services chief.

His department “is responsible for assessing, developing, and evaluating curriculum; coordinating special programs; and providing for the continuous improvement of instruction,” according to the Beaufort County School District website.

Instructional services personnel work with staff from all district schools “in order to facilitate the full implementation of academic standards, the monitoring and assessment of student progress, and the use of effective teaching practices,” the website said.