Congressman Clyburn condemns calls for investigation into Richland One

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Published: Nov. 1, 2023 at 8:02 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Tuesday four of the 15 members of the Richland County Legislative Delegation made a formal call to the state governor requesting an investigation into Richland School District One over allegations of “mismanagement, misconduct and organizational dysfunction.”

However, the governor says what he’s seen so far does *not reach the level of an investigation.

Congressman Clyburn says he applauds the governor’s decision and says this call for an investigation into Richland School District One is part of a political agenda.

“I want to speak out today and ask people, let’s just stop let’s think about our children, let’s think about our state and this political agenda that some people have must come to an end,” Jim Clyburn, (D) South Carolina.

Congress Clyburn’s sentiments follow a press conference from members of the legislative delegation calling for the governor to request an investigation.

“We are hand delivering a letter to the governor asking him to request a state inspector general investigation into Richland School District One,” said Beth Bernstein (D) Richland, during Tuesday’s news conference.

Congressman Clyburn compared the request to the investigation into the Clarendon County School District. The outcome of that investigation which was called back in April was released in early October finding no misuse of funds within the district.

Representative Clyburn says, “There’s something not right when everyone of these school district’s that are called into question just happen to be headed by an African American.”

“There is no color to incompetence. There is no color to misappropriation. There is no color to not doing the job,” said Dick Harpootlian (D) Richland.

The call from members of the legislative delegation for an investigation came after the abrupt reassignments of 11 teachers 45 days into the school year. The members who signed the letter to the governor all say that move was the final straw. Richland One School leaders said in a statement Tuesday teacher re assignments happen every year and while they did not specify when those reassignments take place, Congressman Clyburn still agreed with the decision to re assign those teachers.

“Why would you not make a transfer? You’re in the same school district. So that to me is what efficiency and effectiveness is all about,” said Representative Clyburn.

“We cannot have parents demonstrating and marching because a teacher gets transferred from one school to another,” he added.

Representative Heather Bauer says the teacher reassignments were an opportunity to address a bigger issue within the district which she says is low academic performance amongst students.

“For the amount of money, we do spend per pupil we should not have failing schools. I think it has a lot to do with HR and teacher turnover and staff. So, I think we do need to get to the bottom of it,” said Representative Bauer.

According to the recently released online dashboard which breaks down how taxpayer dollars are being spent in local school districts. It shows that R1 put more money into its students than in comparison to Lexington Richland 5 and Richland Two, but still, the academic performance in R1 is lower than those other districts. Why the congressman did not respond to that data, R1 board member Dr. Aaron Bishop did.

“They also have to look at where we start with the students or what is the challenge our students face, is it poverty.” There are many other factors other than the student just showing up, said Dr. Bishop.

Congressman Clyburn ended his news conference by saying he would not be against R1 consolidating with R2 and says that might be beneficial. It’s also important to note, that Representative Clyburn’s youngest daughter, Angela Clyburn, is a member of Richland One’s school board.

In a statement released by Richland One school leaders yesterday, they say “Statements and allegations that have been made that the teacher reassignments point to a larger issue of mismanagement and misappropriation of funds by the district are simply unfounded.”

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