Beaufort Co. School District employees lodge grievances against board member

Correction: An earlier version of this story has been corrected to remove a paragraph that misattributed information about the complaints to the district’s attorney. Another district employee spoke about three unrelated legal claims that the board of education will discuss in executive session at the July 9 meeting.

A member of the Beaufort County Board of Education is the subject of multiple grievances filed by school district employees, according to a recent vote taken by the board to retain an attorney in the matter.

The board has not made public the identity of the member, nor the nature of the complaints.

Although board members were told in a closed-door meeting June 25 which member the complaints concern, they have not been given specifics on the complaints themselves.

“All the board knows is the number of grievances,” board member John Dowling said Tuesday.

A phone call to district lawyer Wendy Cartledge on Tuesday afternoon from The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette was not returned.

Phone calls from the Packet and the Gazette seeking comment were also not returned Tuesday by board chairperson Christina Gwozdz or board vice chairperson Cathy Robine.

Board secretary Will Smith declined to name the board member involved and said he had no comment on the complaints.

The board voted 9-0 at its regular meeting June 25 to retain the White and Story Law Firm in Columbia to investigate the complaints. Board members JoAnn Orischak and Rachel Wisnefski did not attend the meeting.

When asked Tuesday how unusual it was for district employees to lodge formal complaints against board members, district spokesperson Jim Foster said, “We can’t remember one in recent years.”

While Foster would not comment specifically on the complaints, he said employee grievances normally go through district administrators and in this case would have been forwarded to the board chairperson.

Dowling took issue Tuesday with the ideas of the board receiving complaints from district employees.

“I don’t see where an employee has standing to grieve us as employers,” he said. “Because they don’t work for us.”

The superintendent is the sole employee of the board of education.

The board is slated to receive legal advice at its July 9 meeting.