King Laurence will be the interim superintendent of Aiken County Public Schools effective Sept. 14.
The seven Aiken County School Board members at the meeting approved his appointment Tuesday night after an executive session to seek legal advice at their regular meeting at Silver Bluff High School.
Laurence will replace Dr. Sean Alford, who resigned his position earlier. The board voted to approve his resignation Thursday at a special called meeting.
After the meeting, Laurence said, “I think that the most important thing right now is that we begin the healing process. I think that my first responsibility is to try to provide a sense of calm and make sure that our school district stays on track, that we focus on our children, that we focus on continuing the good work that we're doing, to focus on high academic expectations, maintaining the safety of our students, maintaining fiscal responsibility and just staying on target and ensuring that we meet the needs of our children, our families and our communities.”
The board approved Laurence's appointment by a vote of 6-1. Rosemary English voted against the motion. Barry Moulton, Sandra Shealey, Jason Crane, Keith Liner, Dwight Smith and Brian Silas voted for it.
After casting her no vote, English said, “For the record, this is no indication of my lack of confidence in Mr. Laurence's ability, but because of the circumstances, I feel I have to vote no.”
Laurence will receive a monthly salary supplement of $5,000 and a monthly automobile allowance.
The board also officially accepted the resignations for board members Tad Barber and Ahmed Samaha effective Sept. 10 and declared those seats vacant. Barber and Samaha resigned from their seats Thursday after the school board voted to accept Alford's resignation.
At that meeting, English said she would resign her seat on the board Friday. She said Tuesday she will follow through with her decision to resign.
Before the meeting adjourned, English asked to make a statement, saying, “Unfortunately, this will be my last board meeting. I could go into a lot of detail as to why, but I won't. I have no problem with the board members that are here. I do have problems with people that are not necessarily truthful and honest.
“I am just sorry. To my constituents, the people of Aiken County – all of the people of Aiken County – I'm sorry that I have to resign under these circumstances, but I have to be true to myself. I'm sorry I have to let you down.
“There's no way under the sun that I can sit and continue to work when you are not honest, when you are not fair, when you are not doing the things that you know are legally right.”
After her statement, some people in the audience applauded and stood in support of English's decision to resign from the board.
The board also voted to have Liner contact the Aiken County election commission to notify them of the vacancies, which will be filled by special election.
The board also named Don Pencille as the director of the technology for the school district. He currently is a network coordinator on the district's technology staff, according to the district's website. Pencille will replace Andrew Cox, the former technology director.