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NAACP Swamps Edgefield County BOE Meeting Supporting Superintendent Crenshaw

web posted October 7, 2011

COUNTY – Edgefield County members of the local NAACP converged on the Edgefield County School District office building at a called meeting Thursday night reviewing Superintendent Dr. Mary Crenshaw's performance leading the school district with rumors of an impending firing soon to come. Some prayed, some sang hymns, but the outcome seemed obvious to them.

Members of the school board met with Edgefield County school superintendent Dr. Mary Crenshaw to continue the evaluation listed on the agenda for Thursday’s called meeting. According to information her review was less than stellar and the meeting Thursday night was to give her an opportunity to challenge the findings.

In the past called meetings on a Thursday do not attract much attention, but this one was different. And the cars lined up and down side streets and the standing-room-only crowd spoke to something more and spoke to the close connection of Superintendent Crenshaw and School Board members Sallie Cooks and James Bibbs leaking information to the NAACP prior to any release from the school district about the meeting.

The school board met of over two hours behind closed doors and came back to pubic and stated there would be no action taken.

Three members of the group asked to address the school board and were allowed to offer their input. They said they had heard the rumors of Crenshaw's firing and they wanted answers.

“I’ve been hearing lots of rumors and people have been calling me (about the superintendent) and very soon we need to schedule a public hearing,” said Albert Talbert. “I feel there are some questions that haven’t been answered.”

Rev. Eldwin Griffin, a local pastor and chairman of the Edgefield County NAACP was more pointed in his criticism of the school board, which consists of five whites and two African-Americans.

“We need to establish a dialogue concerning these rumors,” he said. “We need to iron out these rumors going around about our superintendent who is doing a great job in Edgefield county. Why does the (school) board continue to deal with our superintendent in such a negative way? All this just started when these new school board members came on. We thought we were through with racism, but we see that racism isn’t through with us.”

Former school board member Mary Alice Jackson also commented on the situation. “I’m hearing rumors and it’s not good,” she said. “She has been one of the best superintendents we’ve had and I don’t care what you think. She’s an icon in our community.”

However, as Edgefield Daily reported Dr. Crenshaw left a tattered past in her ability to improve school districts she led. Prior to Dr. Crenshaw’s arrival, the Clarendon Three School District had 29.5% of students scoring below basic in English on PACT testing. Under the leadership of Dr. Crenshaw, by 2006 - 40.2% were below basic standards.

Overall the district showed 27.5% scoring below standards in all categories of testing in 2003. By 2006 Dr. Crenshaw was able to raise that number to 40% of students failing to meet the basic required standards.

The Clarendon Three School District prior to Dr. Crenshaw’s arrival had 70.5% meeting standards in English, and by 2006 test scores showed only 59.8% were able to meet the required minimum standards. Overall the 2003 test scores showed 66.4% meeting the standard, and Dr. Crenshaw was able to lower that mark with only 59.9 making the grade in 2006 under her leadership.

This was ignored by a solid majority of African-American board members in control at the time of her hiring over Edgefield County's Assistant Superintendent David Mathis, who was white, and would later lead Saluda County to be the only district to meet AYP in the state. 

All three NAACP speakers called for a public hearing regarding Crenshaw's employment. Edgefield County School Board chairman Brad Covar said that would be decided at this upcoming Tuesday’s previously scheduled meeting.

Ms. Jackson said if the public hearing were not granted that “other measures” might become necessary, insinuating legal actions.

“We need to live together as brothers and sisters or perish as fools,” Rev. Griffin of the NAACP said.

The NAACP held a meeting with Crenshaw earlier this month to express their concerns. Board members refused to attend the meeting hosted by Crenshaw on her behalf.

According to sources, Crenshaw and BOE members James Bibbs and Sallie Cooks, along with the NAACP, are trying to use race and religion to combat what seems to be the imminent removal of Crenshaw as Superintendent.

Meanwhile, Edgefield County Council Chairman Dean Campbell is planning to hold a joint meeting with the school board for next week's meeting when a vote to fire Dr. Crenshaw is expected, according to her supporters.

Why Edgefield County Council Chairman Campbell would want to insert the members of the County Council into such a growing controversy, obviously racially charged as the NAACP and their supports assert, remains unknown.

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