Controversy surrounds Edgefield school superintendent decision

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News 12 at 11, September 12, 2007

EDGEFIELD, S.C.---The Edgefield County School Board names a new Superintendent, Dr. Mary Crenshaw. But the decision by the school board didn't come without controversy.

The decision by the board over who to hire was split four votes to three votes, two different times.

Edgefield County's school board is made up of four African American board members and three white board members. And the vote was split right along those racial lines.

On Monday, the three white board members voted in favor of longtime Edgefield County educator and Associate Superintendent Dr. David Mathis as the next Superintendent. He was also the favorite by many teachers in the community.

But that vote did not pass.

The very next evening, the four members who voted against Dr. Mathis voted in favor of Dr. Mary Crenshaw.

That vote, along with a comment by school board member James Bibbs immediately afterward, have some calling the decision racially motivated.

Here's what he had to say. "61% of our ninth graders who matriculate to the 12th grade do not graduate. Most of those children are in our African American communities. We need a change and we need a leader to make that change. Now Dr. Mathis is a good person but I personally do not believe he has the intestinal fortitude to make that change."

That comment sparked outcry by many parents and teacher in attendance.

News 12 spoke with school board member Scott Chitty about Bibbs' comment. He said he was disappointed by what Bibbs' had to say and he stressed board member James Bibbs' opinion of Dr. Mathis was not the opinion of the board.

We also spoke with Dr. Crenshaw by phone. She says she is excited about being named the new Superintendent and she does plan to accept the contract.

We also asked her if she was upset that some were saying she got the job based on her race. "No I am not offended in the least little bit by that. Do you know what makes America America? The fact that we are a democracy and people have a right to express their opinions. My only comment is that when I actually move into the position if there are questions and maybe racial issues I really think they hired the right person because education has no color."

Dr. Crenshaw has served as Superintendent in two different
South Carolina school districts over the last seven years. She is currently still the Superintendent of Clarendon 3 school district and is still under contract.

Dr. Crenshaw says once the school board there votes to release her, she will sign the dotted line. It's a three year deal with a 125 thousand dollar yearly paycheck.

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