Tensions rise at District 55 board meeting

Sep 25 Written by 

Things got a little heated after the public participation time of the Laurens School District 55 board of trustees meeting on Monday night at Laurens District High School.

Prior to going into executive session to accept Superintendent Dr. Stephen Peters request for family/personal leave to care for his elderly father, six people spoke during the public participation time of the board meeting. Shane Smith requested changing tables be placed in restrooms at K.C. Hanna Stadium. The five other speakers spoke in support of the board of trustees.

Since the failed referendum in September, some community members have demanded that six of the seven board members resign. Mike Fortune was the lone board member that voted against the referendum. The $109 million referendum was defeated 77 percent to 23 percent.

Those that spoke on Monday night, did so to show support for those board members who supported the referendum. Elma Morrison, representing the Thomas Sanders High Alumni Association, thanked the board members for their hard and dedicated work. “To Dr. Peters and the trustees, you did an excellent job,” said Morrison. “Thank you for your love and understanding of children.”

Rev. David Kennedy spoke and recognized who he referred to as the “Super Six”, in reference to the six board members that supported the referendum. Kennedy was a vote yes supporter during the referendum and an advocate for Dr. Peters.

Kennedy had also faced criticism prior to the referendum for protesting in front of the house of a supporter of the no vote for the referendum.

“You saw the need to bless our children and I want to say thank you,” said Kennedy. “I apologize for some of us who didn’t see the need to bless our children with a better facility. I’m proud of you and God is proud of you. I want you to stay on.”

After the public participation time, the board voted to go into executive session. The nearly 100 people in attendance in the LDHS lecture theatre sat and waited for the board to return.

Shortly after the board left the theatre, a woman in the audience confronted Kennedy as she walked past him. Kennedy exploded from his seat, shouting and pointing his finger at the woman and calling her a racist. As the woman quickly returned to her seat, deputies with the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office came down the aisle to speak with Kennedy.

Kennedy was adamant that the deputies address the woman and not him because he said she confronted him. After a few minutes of discussion and debate involving deputies and school administrators, everyone calmed down and waited patiently for the board to return from executive session.

In other business, the board set June 4 and June 5 as make-up days for the two days missed because of Hurricane Irma. June 1 and June 4 were set as half-days and they will now be full days. June 5 will now be a half-day.

Related Story: Peters taking leave of absence from District 55 to care for elderly father 

Last modified on Wednesday, 27 September 2017 09:36