Sumter superintendent announces resignation

SUMTER COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Sumter School District Superintendent Randolph D. Bynum, Sr. has informed the Board of Trustees that he would like to be released from his day-to-day responsibilities, according to a news release from the district.

The announcement came hours after a packed room of parents and staff members addressed the board Monday night about ongoing issues.

When the board voted to end the meeting, without making a decision about Bynum's future, the audience stood and vocally objected, saying board members were putting off the inevitable. They simply walked off the stage without making another comment.

In an emailed news release from the district's public information office, Board Chairman Keith Schultz wrote: "Randolph D. Bynum, Sr. has informed the Board of Trustees that after much prayer, reflection, and counsel with friends, he is requesting that the Board of Trustees release him from the day to day responsibilities as District Superintendent."

Bynum will remain superintendent until the board determines who will lead the district following his exit, which is scheduled to occur on or before Aug. 30, 2013.

"Thereafter, Mr. Bynum will continue to be available to the Board, District employees, and
legal counsel for consultation and professional advice," wrote Schultz.

"The Board of Trustees would like to thank Mr. Bynum publicly for his hard work, effort, and leadership in taking Sumter School District through the largest school consolidation in South Carolina in the last 60 years," wrote Schultz. "We wish him and his family well in all their future endeavors."

In early July, the board asked Bynum to address ongoing district issues before Monday night's meeting.

Those issues included problems at Sumter High School, the 'SWEET 16' program and related copyright issues, community relations, and numerous employee issues.

The ultimatum came in the wake of a criminal investigation underway over exit testing at Sumter High School. In April, the state Education Department called for the investigation after reports of unorganized testing.

Test monitors claim it took too long to get students started, lunch was rushed and teachers were never trained on proper procedures.

Principal Sterling Harris and administrators have repeatedly denied those claims. Bynum said he would not comment on the exit testing problems until the SLED investigation is complete.

A memorandum from Harris blamed his teachers for not following protocol. In his response letter to the Education Department's claims, he disputes some violations and suggests chaos may have been created by teachers and staff unhappy with changes at the district.

In June, students presented the board with a petition signed by 560 people which raised issues about how teachers were being treated and how the district was operating.

SLED is reviewing the state's request but has not said whether it will investigate. Board members have agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

Dozens of teachers have left the district -- with more than 40 from Sumter High School alone.

Gay Howard was just one of the teachers who left amidst a lack of confidence in the district.

"For me professionally, I felt this sort of leadership was not something I need to be a part of anymore and then personally many of us who are leaving are just finally felt like sort of the stress and negativity was just too much," said Howard.

We understand Randolph Bynum has a contract through June 2014.  In that contract, if the two parties decide to part ways, Bynum could be entitled to 9 months of his $175,000 a year contract.

Bynum could not be reached for comment.

The board plans to meet again Thursday at 6 p.m. at the district office, a substantially smaller venue than Monday's meeting at Lakewood High School.

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