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More District 55 trustees resign, election date set

District 55 trustees Todd Varner, above, and Neal Patterson, at left, below, resigned from the board Monday afternoon.

Laurens County, South Carolina – While each had a different reason, District 55 trustees Todd Varner and Neal Patterson both submitted letters of resignation late afternoon prior to Monday evening’s special called meeting of the Laurens District 55 Board of Trustees.

Both were in their first terms and Patterson had been serving as vice chair.

“I submitted my resignation after a compromise I offered was rejected,” Varner told The Advertiser early Tuesday. “My compromise was to adjust the policy to at least open the door for a change in (Board) Chair.”

Varner , the trustee for Seat 1, said fellow trustee Anthony Carpenter didn’t agree with his option when he approached him about the idea.

Neal Patterson

In his letter to Superintendent Ameca Thomas and Board Chair Cathy Little, Varner said he resigned due to the current stalemate the school board has found itself in.

“After much thought, consideration and prayer; I continue to see no progress in repairing the working relationship between the two of you,” Varner wrote. “This rift and unwillingness to see the other perspective leaves little to no hope for any forward progress in the near future.”

Varner also noted the continual disturbance at meetings by members of the community as another reason for his withdrawal.

“The vitriolic behavior of Dr. Thomas’ supporters in recent meetings has degraded what should and could be a constructive and positive collaboration into chaos and disorder. Due to the dismal outlook with no hope of redemption, and its negative impact on my quality of life, health and peace of mind, I hereby resign my office of School Board Trustee of Laurens 55 School District.”

Seat 3 Trustee Neal Patterson also submitted his letter of resignation on Monday, although it was based on the fact that his family has recently relocated to a different section of the county.

“My family and I have relocated, and it has placed me outside of the boundaries for Seat 3,” Patterson wrote in his letter, directed to Little. “Due to this, I am legally obligated to resign from my position.”

Also early on Tuesday, Patterson told The Laurens County Advertiser that several months earlier he and his family had moved into temporary housing after their home sold and they had planned to build a home and return to the Seat 3 area of District 55.

Recently, however, their housing arrangements changed and he and his family have relocated permanently outside the Seat 3 area.

Legal counsel was returned late Monday afternoon with the directive that he’d need to resign effectively immediately.

“I wish all the best for the board, the administration, the staff and, most importantly, the students,” Patterson said.

In response to the resignations of Varner and Patterson following the April 10 resignation of James “Bubba” Rawl, The Laurens County Board of Voter Registration and Elections has postponed the special election for Rawl’s Seat 7 post, which had been planned for mid-July.

Rawl, who had been serving as board secretary, stated in his resignation letter that he had accepted a position with the S.C. State Board of Education.

Of the seven member board, Board Chair Little and trustees Carpenter, Peggy Nance and Mike Hughes remain.

“The election that was going to happen on Tuesday, July 11, for Seat 7 is going to be postponed until Aug. 1 when all three seats can be up on the same day,” said Lynne West, the Director of The Laurens County Board of Voter Registration and Elections.

Filing for Seat 7 ends Monday, May 8, at noon. So far Shenese Gilmore and Chip Jenkins have filed for that seat.

Filing for District 55 Seats 1 and 3 will open at noon on Friday, May 19, and will close at noon Friday, May 26.

Filing for all three seats will take place at The Laurens County Registration and Elections Office, 105 Bolt Dr., Laurens.

Anyone wishing to vote in the special election must register no later than July 2.

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