Former Aiken school board member speaks out following several resignations

Top Stories

AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — Former Aiken County School Board member Rosemary English spoke to NewsChannel 6 following several resignations, including her own.

“Dishonesty, dishonesty, dishonesty that’s the part that I can’t deal with,” she told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk about the current state of the Aiken school board. “I feel as a board member, as a teacher, as a wife, as a mother, it’s my responsibility to be a role model. I can’t say one thing and do another, kids don’t learn that way,” she added.

EXTRA: Former Aiken County School Board member Rosemary English sat down with me to discuss her resignation, issues with the school board, as well as Dr. Sean Alford stepping down. She says that there seemed to be a push to get the top man out. WJBF NewsChannel 6

Posted by Shawn Cabbagestalk WJBF on Wednesday, September 18, 2019
EXTRA: Former Aiken County School Board member Rosemary English sat down with me to discuss her resignation, issues with the school board, as well as Dr. Sean Alford stepping down. She says that there seemed to be a push to get the top man out. 

English is a retired Aiken County teacher and administrator who moved through the ranks of Aiken public schools before retiring.  She says it was something about Dr. Alford that made him a great fit for the district. “He has a way of bringing people together, pulling people together, and finding the best in that person,” she said.

But now, she’s calling for a thorough ethics investigation into the body. “To be perfectly frank with you. There have been many, many, many violations of the ethics of a school board member. They have been cold, calculated, and constant.”

EXTRA: "They have been cold, calculated, and constant," that's how English described some of the members on the Aiken School Board. She shared one instance involving the Waterford Early Learning program. She says board members already had a plan to unravel the project making gains in Aiken classrooms.

Posted by Shawn Cabbagestalk WJBF on Wednesday, September 18, 2019
EXTRA: “They have been cold, calculated, and constant,” that’s how English described some of the members on the Aiken School Board. She shared one instance involving the Waterford Early Learning program. She says board members already had a plan to unravel the project making gains in Aiken classrooms.

She also says that there are several issues of altering the school board meeting agendas in favor of some.

“When you alter the agenda and let some board members become more aware of what’s going on. When you tuck things and hide things on the agenda that should not be in those places and then your other people are more prepared those are the types of things that are just disgusting,” English added.

In the Facebook video below, English outlined a number of incidents in which she felt the board was doing handling business unethically.

EXTRA: A number of people, including former school board member Rosemary English calling for an ethics investigation into the #AikenSC school board. She outlined a number of incidents in which she felt the board was doing handling business unethically.

Posted by Shawn Cabbagestalk WJBF on Thursday, September 19, 2019
EXTRA: A number of people, including former school board member Rosemary English calling for an ethics investigation into the #AikenSC school board. She outlined a number of incidents in which she felt the board was handling business unethically.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the discussion of Dr. Alford’s employment a few days before at that infamous Tuesday board meeting. English says the board attorney was called in without other board members even being aware. “Dr. Alford didn’t even know what was going on, I do want to say that. He knew from the chair that the attorney will be there to give legal advice, it was about a personnel issue and it was about him. that’s what he knew,” she shared.

EXTRA: "What was presented to the lawyer was this, that if the board desired to keep him, they could. But if the board's tendency was not to keep them, these were the things that he would accept. So that option was there." ”We knew how many board members would vote for that.”

Posted by Shawn Cabbagestalk WJBF on Wednesday, September 18, 2019
EXTRA: “What was presented to the lawyer was this, that if the board desired to keep him, they could. But if the board’s tendency was not to keep them, these were the things that he would accept. So that option was there.”
“We knew how many board members would vote for that. “

The retired educator feels there’s an issue with transparency — with some a mission to get rid of the superintendent.”We had a good system going. And it remained good until we had four new board members, we had a returning member that came back with the expressed purpose of getting rid of Dr. Alford.”

There is also the issue of representation in Aiken County. Now that four resignations are in the books for the Board, Shawn asked English how can the district move forward. “Expose the dirty work that has gone on and I think Aiken County will see what we have there and the great lengths and the depths that they would stoop in order to get what they want,” she said.

EXTRA: Rosemary English told me she feels there was a plot to get rid of the Superintendent of Aiken Schools because of zoning.

Posted by Shawn Cabbagestalk WJBF on Wednesday, September 18, 2019
EXTRA: Rosemary English told me she feels there was a plot to get rid of the Superintendent of Aiken Schools because of zoning.

The Aiken County School Board issued the following statement through the District’s communications department:

Aiken County Community:

On behalf of Aiken County’s School Board, I would like to express our gratitude to the citizens of this community for your patience during these past few weeks. As previously shared, our school board and Aiken County’s former superintendent Dr. Sean Alford reached an amicable resolution and Dr. Alford resigned from his position effective September 13, 2019, to pursue other career opportunities. The Board appreciates and acknowledges his excellent leadership and performance during his time as superintendent of Aiken County Public Schools. 

As far as questions about allegations referenced in the media are concerned, I ask that you please refer to the comments from Dr. Alford’s attorney, Donald Gist, quoted in a September 15, 2019 article in the Post and Courier, “‘As to any allegations, they’re just that: allegations,’ Gist said.  ‘Dr. Alford will not, under any circumstances, address those allegations, and they had nothing to do with his personal decision to pursue other career endeavors.’”

This situation has been extremely difficult for our entire school community. We have heard from numerous stakeholders collectively at our last regularly scheduled school board meeting and individually in our respective communities. I cannot discuss or comment on whether or not there is or will be an Ethics Commission investigation, which would be, by law, confidential, but can state that our school board will continue to strive to maintain community trust worthy of your support. 

Aiken County School District Policy BCA, Board Member Code of Ethics, requires Board members to maintain confidentiality of matters discussed in executive session.  Because of this Policy requirement, the current Board has not and will not deviate from this requirement.  The Board has sought and followed the advice of legal counsel regarding the issues before the Board and will continue to do so, but cannot disclose confidential legal advice provided by the District’s legal counsel.

As we move forward, please know that students are our focus and that we are committed to continuing programs that have contributed to their success. We have selected King Laurence to serve as interim superintendent. He has an educational career spanning three decades and is deeply rooted in the community, having served our district for the last 22 years. Our team of administrators and teachers are dedicated to the safety and success of our students.

Public education is important and community involvement in our school system is vital to the success our students, teachers and district are enjoying. Thank you, again, for your understanding of the confidentiality of these matters and for your continued support of our students, teachers and staff.

Keith Liner, Chairman
Aiken County School Board

Meanwhile, Aiken County election officials say that the special election to fill the vacated seats is scheduled for December 10.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.