Interim Superintendent of Aiken Public Schools looking to the future following shake-up

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AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — On his first week in office, King Laurence said that he hit the ground running by meeting with senior staff members and community leaders. Now as the interim successor, Laurence is hoping to move on from what he calls distractions.

“I think we need to focus on unity. We need to focus on re-building the trust that may have been lost. We need to make sure that people understand that while there may be a lot of things that we don’t agree with, there are things that the community don’t agree on, and can debate. There are things that are in the schools that we don’t agree with each other on but if we focus on the things that we agree on. I think that’s what’s important and I think that’s the thing that’s going to build unity and move forward one,” he said.

A new interim superintendent is at the helm of Aiken County Public School District following the abrupt resignation by Dr. Sean Alford. Tonight starting at 5, how King Laurence feels the district can move forward from "recent distractions."

Posted by Shawn Cabbagestalk WJBF on Friday, September 20, 2019
A new interim superintendent is at the helm of Aiken County Public School District following the abrupt resignation by Dr. Sean Alford. Tonight starting at 5, how King Laurence feels the district can move forward from “recent distractions.”

He’s no stranger to education, as Chief Officer of Administration, King Laurence serves as the District Ombudsman and is responsible for “coordinating long-range strategic planning, assessing program implementation and effectiveness, and working with community stakeholders to advance the mission and goals of Aiken County Public Schools,” according to his district bio.

“Junior high school and high school, there were teachers that I truly admired and loved what they did and loved the impact they had on my life so they inspired me to want to [go into education,]” he said.

EXTRA: Most of us had that lightbulb moment when we knew what we wanted to do in our professional careers. King Laurence, the new interim superintendent of Aiken Public Schools, shared with me when that moment was for him.

Posted by Shawn Cabbagestalk WJBF on Friday, September 20, 2019
EXTRA: Most of us had that lightbulb moment when we knew what we wanted to do in our professional careers. King Laurence, the new interim superintendent of Aiken Public Schools, shared with me when that moment was for him.

He has 30 years of experience in education, having served as Aiken’s Associate Superintendent for Instruction and Accountability, Director of Federal Programs, and Principal at Cyril B. Busbee Elementary. “I believe our students are continuing just as they have throughout this year and throughout every year. They are focused on our curriculum, they are focused on preparing themselves for the future and I think they are going to continue to do that and we are going to continue to help them do that,” he said.

EXTRA: Will King Laurence throw his hat in the ring for the top spot at Aiken Public Schools now that he's interim?

Posted by Shawn Cabbagestalk WJBF on Friday, September 20, 2019
EXTRA: Will King Laurence throw his hat in the ring for the top spot at Aiken Public Schools now that he’s interim?

A number of people, including former school board member Rosemary English, are calling for an ethics investigation into the school board. “I’ve read like everyone else calls for those kinds of things and requests for them but at this point, I’m not aware of any ongoing investigations,” Laurence said.

The district is moving full speed ahead in spite of recent developments by working on several different projects and initiatives like the 4th annual day of caring. “Collaboration within the community between our schools and the community and other partners in serving. We’ve asked our schools and our school personnel to go into the community and serve. So there are a lot of exciting projects that are going to be going on tomorrow,” he said.

EXTRA: Is the internal strife in the Aiken School board impacting students at Aiken Public Schools? King Laurence doesn't think so.

Posted by Shawn Cabbagestalk WJBF on Friday, September 20, 2019
EXTRA: Is the internal strife in the Aiken School board impacting students at Aiken Public Schools? King Laurence doesn’t think so.

It’s all a part of continuing to put the children of Aiken County first. “I believe our students are continuing just as they have throughout this year and throughout every year. They are focused on our curriculum, they are focused on preparing themselves for the future and I think they are going to continue to do that and we are going to continue to help them do that,” he added.

Meanwhile, Shawn reached out to the State Department of Education to find out if there is an open investigation. “We do not confirm, deny, or comment on any investigatory matters particularly as they relate to disciplinary action against certified educators. This policy is in place to protect due process rights of the accused,” Chief Communications Officer Ryan Brown. “With that being said, it would depend on the nature of the alleged wrongdoing by the school board or individual board members as to whether or not we would have the authority to investigate. School board members, as elected officials, fall under the state’s ethics act which is governed by the State Ethics Commission,” he added.

The State Ethics Commission didn’t respond to a request to find out about any possible investigations.

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