Skip to content

Quick exits abruptly end Dist. 55 Trustee meeting

Laurens, South Carolina – Barely 10 minutes after it started Monday evening, a meeting of the Board of Trustees for Laurens County School District 55 ended abruptly when three trustees walked out, leaving only Chairman Cathy Little, Trustee Mike Hughes and Superintendent Ameca Thomas remaining in their seats.
Held this month in the LDHS Amphitheater, the trustees were on their first order of business, the approval of the agenda, when trustee Anthony Carpenter made an additional motion to revoke the role of chairman from current Chair Cathy Little.
“Madam Chairman, I would like to make a motion to amend the agenda to include a discussion with board officers on board action,” Carpenter said. “I along with other board members have requested an item to be placed on the agenda and the chair refused to include the request. We need to make this amendment because there are things that are taking place that are hindering the effective operation of the school board which is hurting the district.”
Carpenter read from a portion of the policies, listed on the district’s website, related to trustee code of conduct and suggested action by the board.
“I contend that the board no longer has confidence in the present chair and I submit, based on her own action, that she’s not fit to lead this board. An oath of ethics and responsibility which every one of us has signed is posted in the district office,” Carpenter said. “Therefore, I move that the board take action this night to remove Cathy Little as board chair.”

Little responded to Carpenter’s motion that the board policies do not allow for such action.
“Mr. Carpenter there is no opportunity based on our policy to take action on any other officer position other than the secretary,” Little said.
Both Little and Carpenter asserted that separate conversations with the school board’s attorneys gave credence to their positions.
“So that leaves us at an impasse,” Carpenter said.
“That is not allowed in our policy,” Little said, “so if we want to discuss this later and bring forth a policy, we can do that at a later date but our policy stands as is.”
Little said the school district’s attorney clarified that for her, while Carpenter said the attorney he spoke to said the board could indeed make such a motion.
“We have a quorum,” Carpenter said. “If the board wants to do it, we can do it.”
Little interjected, saying, “That is not the case.”
Trustee Peggy Nance seconded Carpenter’s motion while Hughes’ original motion to adopt the agenda never got a second.
Little reiterated that policy didn’t allow such a motion.
“The attorney said there’s nothing in the language of our policies supporting or suggesting the occurrence of any single vacancy in one of the three officer positions requires that the other two officers positions be vacated,” Little said. “It just says vacancies will be filled by the board. We are only allowed to vote on the officers, unless there’s a vacancy, during our organizational meeting in January.”
Carpenter asked Little if she would entertain his motion, and she said no, since it went against the policy.
“I think we should move along with our meeting,” Little said. “Do we have a second to approve our agenda?”
At that point Carpenter said he would not stay and left. He was quickly followed by Nance and Vice Chair Neal Patterson. Trustee Todd Varner was absent from the meeting, as was James Rawl who had resigned earlier this month.
At that point Little called the meeting adjourned.
Attempts by The Laurens County Advertiser to reach District 55 legal counsel on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

This story originally ran Page 1 of the Wednesday, April 26 issue of The Laurens County Advertiser.

Leave a Comment