Florence 4 board members sue state for consolidation

FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – Members of the Florence Four County School District Board of Trustees filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the South Carolina Department of Education over its plan to consolidate the district with Florence schools 1.

The lawsuit claims the Department of Education violated the law by consolidating the district. The council said the consolidation threatens the existence of the city of Timmonsville and violates civil and constitutional rights, according to the lawsuit obtained by News13.

In 2018, State Superintendent Molly Spearman said the district was high risk, citing financial issues, according to the lawsuit. The board says these issues have improved by 2020 and said there is no longer a financial emergency.

The lawsuit claims that Spearman does not have the power to get rid of a school. The council also claims that the state attempted to strip the council of its power and spent taxpayer money without proper public hearings.

In 2020, the Department of Education declared there would be no election for School District Four in Florence County, which was later corrected by Governor Henry McMaster, according to the lawsuit.

The council says the Department of Education claimed copyright in the district’s logo in June 2021 and then sought copyright infringement action against the council, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that Spearman’s decision to allow students in the district to attend Florence 1 schools for free was an attempt to depopulate School District Four in Florence County. The board also said the Transition Consolidation Team disbanded without notice and did not contain any members of the Florence County School District Four board.

The lawsuit also accuses the Department of Education of selling district-owned property without obtaining district board approval.

The board also accuses the Department of Education of not paying members of the Florence Four County School District’s board of trustees and said its members are entitled to their salaries, legal penalties, interest and attorney’s fees. , according to the lawsuit.

It was then decided that the college would also consolidate with Florence 1 schools. Board members previously told News13 on January 25 that they planned to take the matter to court.

In a statement to News13, a spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Education said the agency has not yet received a lawsuit and could not comment at this time.

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