Education

Moss to keep his job; wife resigns new post, board to revisit nepotism policy

By REBECCA LURYE rlurye@islandpacket.com

File video: School board reconvenes, Moss apologizes

Upon the Beaufort County School District board's return from a three-hour executive session during a Sept. 21, 2015, meeting, superintendent Jeff Moss offered an apology for the week's upheaval. "I can tell you, whatever you decide to do tonight,
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Upon the Beaufort County School District board's return from a three-hour executive session during a Sept. 21, 2015, meeting, superintendent Jeff Moss offered an apology for the week's upheaval. "I can tell you, whatever you decide to do tonight,

Following a 4 1/2-hour special meeting -- three of them spent in closed session -- the Beaufort County School District on Monday night refused to do what some members of the public had demanded -- get rid of school Superintendent Jeff Moss.



After the announcement that Moss' wife, Darlene, had resigned from the director of innovation post Saturday, the board expressed continued confidence in Jeff Moss' leadership. The board noted, however, that Moss is up for review in coming months.



The district also passed three motions: to review and create its own nepotism policy; to review and approve all future district hirings on a monthly basis; and to have more oversight over the district's other rules.



The decision to hire Darlene Moss coincided with a decision by Jeff Moss to change the district's rules on the hiring of the superintendent's family members and that fueled widespread outrage on social media and throughout the county.



Board chairman Bill Evans, who announced Darlene Moss' resignation after the closed session, said the $90,000-a-year position will be on hold while the superintendent evaluates all administrative jobs to determine which are necessary and appropriate in light of budget constraints.



In a statement to the board, Jeff Moss apologized to Evans and promised, if given the opportunity, that he would rebuild the public's trust and the district's credibility. 



"Whatever you do decide to do tonight, whatever credibility you believe you lost or we lost as a district, I'll do everything within my ability to rebuild that credibility and rebuild that public trust," he said.



Only about 30 people -- some 50 to 75 were there when the meeting began at 5 p.m. -- were still at the meeting when the board emerged from the closed session. 



Twenty-five people spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting: All 21 members of the general public were critical of Moss and the circumstances surrounding the hiring of his wife. Four people spoke in support of Moss; each was an employee of the district.



David Striebinger, a parent in the district, blamed Moss for making bad decisions worse.



"He's taken an arrogant and combative posture that only magnifies the situation," Striebinger said. "The number of people in this room gives testimony to that."



Jim Bequette, who served on the school board in 2010, was critical of Moss but also of the board. "I'm very disappointed with the attitude of most school board members that I've seen."



Many in attendance were disappointed to find out that, after nearly five hours of waiting for a resolution, one had previously been made -- Darlene Moss voluntarily resigned on Saturday. It was unclear Monday when the board was notified of Moss' resignation, but Bluffton resident Richard Dinnan said it should have been announced before the meeting.



"That would have been the adult thing to do," he said.



"But the real adult thing would have been to never let it get to this point in the first place."



Contact reporter Rebecca Lurye at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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