Change in leadership at troubled Fairfield Co. School Board

The Fairfield County School Board
The Fairfield County School Board
Former Board Chair Annie McDaniel
Former Board Chair Annie McDaniel

By Logan Smith - bio | email

WINNSBORO, SC (WIS) - A Midlands school board which has been the subject of much controversy over the past year voted Tuesday night to replace its leadership during its first meeting with newly elected members.

The Fairfield County School Board voted to replace Annie McDaniel as chair with new board member Ron Smith, according to Smith's wife Pam. The board also elected Danielle Miller as vice chair, replacing Rickey Johnson. McDaniel will still serve on the board, but not in leadership positions. Johnson lost in November election to Bobby Cunningham.

McDaniel told WIS that she informed the board Tuesday night before the meeting that she did not want to run for chair again.

"Finally we have hope for a better future for the children in the Fairfield County Schools and for all taxpayers," said Pam Smith. "I truly believe the board will put more of the money toward education and less toward other things that don't help Fairfield County children."

Under McDaniel's leadership, the board drew criticism for its handling of district finances -- with just 54 percent of funds being spent in the classroom -- and a near loss of accreditation due to a "lack of professionalism" among board members. In response, a state law was passed to strip the board of its financial control.

But the troubled board was criticized even more just days before it was scheduled to lose that control, when members voted to buy themselves expensive iPads. McDaniel defended the decision by calling the choice good for the environment, and noting that the board's laptops were several years old.

McDaniel herself was the subject of controversy when she was accused of living in Richland County instead of Fairfield, and the county election commission revoked her voter registration. School board rules prohibit members from serving on the board without that registration. A judge later ruled that McDaniel indeed lives in Fairfield County, and McDaniel's voter registration was reinstated.

The board also voted Tuesday night for new member Andrea Harrison to become secretary.

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