Education

Beaufort County school board elects former minority member as its new leader

The Beaufort County Board of Education. The front row includes (seated, left to right) Vice Chair Cathy Robine, Chair Christina Gwozdz and Secretary William Smith. The back row includes (standing, left to right) Rachel Wisnefski, Richard Geier, Melvin Campbell, Patricia Fidrych, John Dowling, David Striebinger, JoAnn Orischak and Earl Campbell.
The Beaufort County Board of Education. The front row includes (seated, left to right) Vice Chair Cathy Robine, Chair Christina Gwozdz and Secretary William Smith. The back row includes (standing, left to right) Rachel Wisnefski, Richard Geier, Melvin Campbell, Patricia Fidrych, John Dowling, David Striebinger, JoAnn Orischak and Earl Campbell.

The Beaufort County Board of Education elected new officers Tuesday night — including two newcomers and a member who was a part of the board’s minority bloc that felt their voices were not heard under the former leaders.

Veteran board member Christina Gwozdz of District 9 was elected as chair; Cathy Robine of District 8 was elected as vice chair; and William Smith of District 3 was elected as secretary.

Their terms will last through January 2021.

Gwozdz, who represents portions of Bluffton and Pritchardville and Daufuskie Island, beat out veteran board members JoAnn Orischak and David Striebinger to replace former board chair Earl Campbell.

Gwozdz became a board member in January 2017 and was a part of the board’s former five-member minority bloc that frequently pushed back against former superintendent Jeff Moss.

She is an otolaryngologist and owns Palmetto Ear, Nose and Throat on Hilton Head Island.

During her time on the board, Gwozdz has generally avoided controversy. But in January 2018, she filed a police report after she believed a dead rat was placed on her doorstep as a threat related to her role on the school board.

As board chair, one of her main priorities is to “regain the community’s trust and support for our public schools,” Gwozdz said in a news release.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting the board’s key challenges, the most immediate of which is searching for and hiring an excellent superintendent,” she said in the release.

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