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Three Midlands school districts are searching for a superintendent

Local school boards are in charge of the hiring and firing of superintendents.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Several school districts in the Midlands are working to replace their current superintendent after three of them announced they will be resigning at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

In Lexington School District One, Dr. Greg Little announced he will be moving to the SC Technical College System. 

In Kershaw County, Dr. Shane Robbins announced he will moving to Dorchester County School District in the Lowcountry.

In Sumter County, Dr. Penelope Martin-Knox will also be leaving for a district in another state.

"We need an experienced leader," said Lexington One parent Dawn Merck. "We have diversity, we have some large schools, some medium schools, some in the rural, and some in the suburban. So, I think being able to work with those parents, those students and teachers—we have a lot of opinions in our district and it needs to be someone who can deal with issues professionally, even though they may be attacked personally, which is very difficult."

Merck also wants to see a superintendent with a vision for everyone in the district. 

RELATED: Lexington One superintendent resigns effective June 30

"We need someone to be able to see the big picture," Merck said. "I have a son in elementary school and a daughter in middle school, so I need someone to see that whole range ... look at the beginning of a child's career all the way through high school."

Sherry East, president of the South Carolina Education Association (SCEA), said the state lost more than 20 superintendents since 2020—partly because of the pandemic and added stress to the job. 

"When you have this rolling turnover at the top, then you get some inconsistencies in what districts can build because you are not building upon anyone's vision or plan," East said. "You lose stability in the district. Your teachers don't have a leader. Imagine not having a leader and you don't have anybody with the vision or anybody running the program, so you don't know what to expect."

RELATED: Teachers group calls on state lawmakers to address teacher vacancies in South Carolina

East said finding a candidate is challenging with multiple state requirements. According to the SC Department of Education, those requirements include:

  • A Master's degree conferred by a Regionally Accredited institution of higher education;
  • Valid South Carolina Professional Certificate at the elementary, middle, or secondary level
  • Minimum qualifying score(s) on the area examination(s) required by the State Board of Education
  • Verification of a total of three years’ experience as a PreK–12 or postsecondary teacher and two years as a school or school district administrator, postsecondary administrator, or school business administrator
  • Completion of an advanced program approved by the State Board of Education for the training of school superintendents

RELATED: Sumter School District names four finalists for superintendent position

East said superintendents need to be able to handle multiple jobs at once.

"They are in charge of really everything—all the departments, the instructional department, the staffing departments, the cafeteria," East said. "Everything ultimately falls on the superintendent to make sure all those jobs to get done."

Board members are in charge of the hiring and firing of superintendents and with a short deadline to fill the positions, Merck said it's important for members to not rush the process.

RELATED: Kershaw County School District Superintendent leaving for Dorchester County

"We don’t want to rush this decision," Merck said. "We want to make sure that it’s a perfect fit for our district, and for our students and teachers.

During the last week in April, the Sumter County School District narrowed down the four final candidates in their search. A decision is expected to be made by the end of May. 

There is no word yet on the search for Lexington One and Kershaw County.

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