Felon’s election win stalls Allendale schools’ return to local control

Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 5:44 PM EST
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ALLENDALE, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - The return of the Allendale County School District to local control is on hold after a felon was illegally elected to the school board and then ousted before he took office.

That leaves two seats open on the school board – a situation state Superintendent Molly Spearman considers too shaky for her to turn over the reins.

She’s leaving the decision up to the new state superintendent, who’ll take over in January.

The state took control of the district in 2017 after years of lagging performance, and the plan had been to return it to local control right after the school board elections that were just held.

But that timetable unraveled after DeWayne Ennis filed to run for school board and was unopposed.

He was the Allendale town administrator for years but pleaded guilty three years ago to federal charges of stealing taxpayers’ money. He served two years of probation.

He shouldn’t have been on the ballot because state law says felons can’t run for office until 15 years after finishing their sentence. But it turns out that’s on the honor system, and Ennis ran anyway.

Some people realized the problem after he was elected, and the Allendale superintendent reached out to state education officials to raise some red flags.

The South Carolina Department of Education then contacted the state Election Commission to investigate, and that’s what’s happening now.

With Ennis’ disqualification, there will be a special election for the seat he won.