After recent controversy surrounding Beaufort County schools Superintendent Jeffrey Moss changing district policy on nepotism and then hiring his wife for a district position, the Board of Education responded to public concerns in a special meeting on Monday. More than a dozen people commented before the board went into a nearly three-hour-long executive session.
The board informed the public Moss’ wife, Darlene Moss, voluntarily resigned the previous Saturday morning. The board voted to establish policies on nepotism, instead of having the responsibility rest solely on the superintendent. The board will also review new hires on a monthly basis, and require policy changes to be submitted to the board for permission in the future.
Out of 22 people who stood at the mic and podium and addressed the 11 member board, not all condemned Moss for his decision.
One district employee who was part of the interview team who hired Darlene Moss said, “she was the best candidate for that job and for that position. A lot of people are wanting to know, are we feared? or is there pressure?, and I think a lot of you all know me, and I’m not pressured by anything, and I don’t fear anything,” Mona Lisa Dickson said.
The majority of speakers alleged wrong-doing.
“He changed the job description so that his wife could apply, and he changed the rules for nepotism so that his wife would be eligible. Had he not done those two things, we wouldn’t be here tonight,” resident Richard Bisi said.”
The school district reported that Moss changed the nepotism rule in late July or early August. His wife was later hired for a $90,000 job as director of innovation. The district reports Moss felt there was no wrong-doing, because he was not directly involved in his wife’s hiring, and would not directly supervise her.
However, citizens felt there was a lack of transparency for details surrounding the hire, and felt public trust was ‘stained.’ Several people suggested the board be more directly involved.
“The board’s job is to set policy. It’s the superintendent’s job to execute that policy,” Richard Bisi said.
“With anything, I do feel that when policy changes or changes are made, it needs to go before the board,” resident and parent Elizabeth Morrow said.
Still, several people in the Monday night meeting hoped Darlene Moss would resign.
“I don’t think that he could objectionably and or professionally ever be able to judge her work performance, without having some type of bias in there, keeping in mind that in the back of his mind that he reports to her husband,” Morrow said.
“I think Darlene Moss should step aside. She may be well qualified, but I think she should step aside for the public good,” Bisi said.
After a nearly three hour long executive session, the board came back with this response:
“The Board of Education has devoted considerable time and energy to the recent issues and controversies regarding Superintendent Jeff Moss. We have each received telephone calls, text messages, and e-mails regarding the issues and have welcomed productive input from the community.
The Board understands the community’s concerns. We also acknowledge the issues raise broad concerns for our county, for Beaufort County residents and for BCSD staff and faculty members. We thank those of you who have indicated positive interest in the BCSD and the mission we serve.
I want to first announce that Darlene Moss voluntarily resigned her employment with the BCSD on Saturday morning, September 19, 2015. The position of Director of Innovation will be placed on hold until the Superintendent reassesses it and the existing BCSD administrative structure to determine whether all positions are necessary and appropriate in light of existing staff structure and budget constraints.
The Board recognizes the concerns expressed by the community around recent events, and will further review these matters during its upcoming annual evaluation process with Dr. Moss. In an effort to ensure the Board’s expectations and goals are reached, the Board will renew and expand its oversight and involvement moving forward. The Board will begin reviewing and approving new hires monthly, will review all revisions to BCSD administrative regulations before final approval, and will adopt an overarching nepotism policy to apply throughout the BCSD.
We balance recent events with the accomplishments of the Beaufort County School District and its students during the last two years. We support a continued relationship with Dr. Moss due to his leadership, innovation and clear vision for improving education for all Beaufort County students.”