It seems issues dividing members of the Liberty County Board of Education won’t go away.
Saturday, State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, held a town hall meeting at the Dorchester Academy, where community members voiced concerns about LCSS accreditation.
Liberty County’s school system was placed under review by AdvancED May 8, and faces the possibility of losing accreditation.
School board Chairwoman Lily Baker and Vice-Chairwoman Verdell Jones attended Williams’ town hall. The two school board members, “were very forthright and they answered questions,” he said.
But other school board members say discussions at the town hall revolved around a May 21 BoE meeting where they voted against moving forward with AdvancED requirements, and they are being made scapegoats.
During that school board meeting, LCSS Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry presented a preliminary action plan in response to the 17-page report the district received from AdvancED.
Baker, Jones and board members Carol Guyett and Marcia Anderson voted in favor of moving forward with the preliminary plan.
Dr. Yvette Keel, who lost in the nonpartisan general election May 22, and Carolyn Smith-Carter voted against the measure. Marcus Scott IV, who also lost in the May 22 election, was not at the meeting. Smith-Carter said she and Keel were referred as, “the other two,” throughout the town hall Saturday and have since been harassed.
“Less than 48 hours after the meeting Dr. Keel and I have been receiving threatening and harassing phone calls at our homes about our votes concerning the directives,” Carter said during a statement she offered to the Courier.
Smith-Carter said the public needs to understand the plan presented at the May 21 meeting was a template. She said the district has yet to receive specific direction from the state or AdvancED.
She said she and Keel voted against the plan because it had no specifics.
“AdvancEd promised to send the board a template with instructions for corrections and with the progress due by October,” Carter said. “We are currently waiting on the template from AdvancED and directions from the state board. The template presented to us (May 21) had no specific remedies for the 17 page report by AdvancED. There was no specific training noted.”
But Patrick and Wendy Underwood, who are the administrators of the Facebook Group called Parents Involved in Liberty Schools said they can’t understand why Keel and Carter would refuse to cooperate.
“I just want them to attend the training and the meetings,” Patrick Underwood said. “SACS (Ad-vancED) laid out items A, B, C and D. We are doing A, B and C but they don’t want to do D which is to attend the meetings. If they don’t go to the meeting SACS could pull the accreditation. My son is a sen-ior this year so it really hits home but we have a lot of seniors out there that are going to be affected so I want both of them to get off their high horse and go to this meeting. If they don’t want to go to this meeting they need to both resign. Resign so the governor can appoint new board members until the term is up.”
Underwood added that he understood it was the entire board’s behaviors that got the school situa-tion to where it is now. But he said other board members were at least willing to work together.
Wendy Underwood said losing accreditation would affect the 600 students that make up the 2019 senior class and the students that follow behind them.
“That is 12 years of their lives for a diploma that is not worth anything,” she said. “There are juniors right now that are also in line for scholarships. If we lose accreditation they can’t even qualify for the HOPE scholarship,” she said. “And the incoming freshmen and sophomores…parents are already talking about pulling their kids and moving to other school districts. This affects the entire community.”
Perry said the state board of education has not set a hearing date and no updates from Ad-vancED.