Board not in Unison on Super’s Evaluation

District Chief Gets Contract Extension

RIDGEWAY – The Fairfield County School Board voted 4-3 during their Dec. 16 meeting at Geiger Elementary School to extend the contract of Superintendent Dr. J.R. Green through June 30, 2021 and make him eligible for a 5-percent increase on his $144,200 a year salary after his fourth year and every year thereafter upon receiving a satisfactory evaluation from the Board. Board members Andrea Harrison (District 1), Paula Hartman (District 2) and Annie McDaniel (District 4) voted against the extension and potential raise.

The extension comes on the heels of the District successfully obtaining accreditation on Dec. 10 from AdvancEd, the accrediting arm of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), and also follows the District’s third consecutive absolute rating of “average” from the S.C. Department of Education.

The vote came after a review of the Board’s evaluation of Green in executive session. Those evaluations, obtained by The Voice through a Freedom of Information Act request, show that while four of the seven Board members rated Green “exemplary,” without comment, in all five areas (Community Engagement, Student Achievement, Leadership, Learning Environment and Fiscal Management), two Board members had different views.

Harrison, who did not submit an evaluation at all, said before the vote that the Board was “making decisions based on false information.”

“Sometimes we don’t like to talk about things that aren’t good,” Harrison said. “There are things that are wrong, but are just not being talked about.”

McDaniel went a step further, saying the District had not, in fact, improved. Advanced Placement (AP) scores were of particular concern, she said, with only seven students passing the AP finals in 2013 and none in 2014.

“The improvement we’re trying to imply is not there,” McDaniel said. “We should not give false positives and make it appear that this District is doing such great things when it’s really not.”

Attempts to contact Harrison for clarification of her comments were unsuccessful at press time.

Frick, who placed the motion for the contract extension on the floor, said the District had indeed made tremendous progress during Green’s 2-plus years in office.

“We’re (moving) in a very positive direction,” Frick said. “Is everything 100 percent great? No. It’s probably never going to be. But we’re striving that way and making progress and I’m hoping we can continue on that path.”

Chairwoman Beth Reid (District 7) and Board members Henry Miller (District 3), Carl Jackson (District 5) and William Frick (District 6) all gave Green “exemplary” marks across the spectrum, but included no comments in their reviews. Hartman rated Green as “exemplary” in Community Engagement, but gave him “proficient” marks in Student Achievement and Learning Environment and handed out “needs improvement” for Leadership and Fiscal Management.

In her comments under Student Achievement, Hartman wrote, “Need to put something in place to get students to pass AP final test. Do we have something? Because not many are passing.”

“Need to inform Board more and have Board vote on appropriate things,” Hartman wrote in her comments under Leadership and under Fiscal Management. “Show more Board respect.”

McDaniel was somewhat more critical, giving Green “needs improvement” marks in every category.

Under Student Achievement, McDaniel noted that Green had not notified the Board that the District had been cited by the State Department of Education for having an assistant principal in place who was not certified. In her comments under Fiscal Management, McDaniel wrote, “Mr. Green brags that $1.5 million went back to fund balance; however, fiscal needs for students went unmet.”

The State Department actually “advised” the District in its 2013-2014 accreditation report, not “cited,” regarding an assistant principal at Kelly Miller Elementary who was not certified.

“This particular individual was transferred to Kelly Miller prior to my arrival,” Green wrote in an email to The Voice this week. “If my memory serves me correctly, he had a secondary administrative certification and was working to obtain his elementary administrative certification. Additionally, he is no longer employed with Fairfield County Schools and was replaced by an individual who has elementary administrative certification. Furthermore, for a district to have only one ‘advisement’ is pretty good.”

Green wrote in his email that he was also unclear as to how McDaniel’s note related to student achievement.

As far as the fiscal needs to students going “unmet,” as McDaniel asserted, Green wrote that he was also in the dark.

“I have absolutely no clue what Ms. McDaniel is speaking of,” Green wrote. “In fact, beginning in January we will provide an individual Goggle Chromebook for all students in grades 3-12 as a part of our new expanded 1-to-1 initiative. What “unmet” needs? Maybe she will share some with you, because I have not heard of any.”

Attempts to contact McDaniel were not successful at press time.

McDaniel also included a footnote on her evaluation form critical of the form itself.

“Notice is that this evaluation was not an agreed upon document by the board and thus agreement of what would be provided to the board; thus, without sufficient empirical data or documentation I must grade Mr. Green as needing improvement.”