BCSD accepts Supt. Blackburn's resignation
There has been yet another change in leadership at the Berkeley County School District. After about 16 months on the job, Superintendent Brenda Blackburn is no longer at the district helm. The BCSD announced on Friday, March 10, that the Berkeley County School Board voted to accept Blackburn’s resignation effective immediately. The decision came after a specially called meeting on Friday during which an executive session was held. Chief Administrative Officer Deon Jackson has been appointed interim superintendent.
According to a district press release, the board has engaged the consulting firm Harding Parker and Associates, LLC “to provide leadership and expertise regarding the operations of the School District.” One of the partners in the firm is Anthony Parker, who served as Berkeley County School Superintendent from 2009 to 2011, before abruptly leaving the post. The group has been tasked with finding a permanent replacement for Blackburn.
“We are a strong and exceptional district,” said Board Chairwoman Sally Wofford, “and just as our teachers rise every day to meet the challenges of our students, this Board is committed to rising to the challenges facing the District in a straightforward and transparent manner.”
Blackburn was hired in 2015, to replace Superintendent Rodney Thompson, who resigned while under investigation for ethics violations related to the YES4Schools campaign (he later plead guilty to one count). Thompson was appointed to the Superintendent post in 2011, after it was vacated by Parker, who also left the position before his contract was due to expire, citing family reasons. He was given a $121,000 lump sum payment by the district upon his departure.
In an article in The Daniel Island News published after Blackburn’s arrival at the district, she described herself as a “longtime educator” and a “participatory leader.” Throughout her career, she served as a classroom teacher, a guidance counselor, an assistant principal, a principal, a chief academic officer, and a superintendent. Prior to coming to Berkeley County, Blackburn, now 69, served as superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools in Virginia, a position she held for five and a half years.
Newly appointed Interim Superintendent Jackson began his educational career at Lancaster High School as a teacher and assistant football coach. He then joined BCSD as an assistant administrator and assistant football coach at Goose Creek High School before a promotion to assistant principal at Timberland High. In 2009, he was named the BCSD High School Assistant Principal of the Year. He was appointed principal of Cane Bay Middle School in 2011 and in 2014 was named Principal of the Year by the district. In his previous role as chief administrative officer, Jackson was responsible for the district’s building program and maintenance and facilities department. He also oversaw the district’s growth management plan.
“I am committed to working with our employees during this transition to carry forward the Board’s vision of integrity-based decision-making in all we do to deliver what is in the best interest of our children,” said Jackson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in secondary education from The Citadel. He is currently pursuing his PhD from the University of South Carolina in Educational Leadership (K-12).
“We are confident Mr. Jackson with the support of Harding Parker and Associates will build a foundation of trust with the public and the District that will take us to heights unknown,” added Wofford. “The Board is fully aware of the short term pain that our stakeholders may feel, but we are committed to long term gains that are transparent and based on integrity.”
When pressed about the reason for Blackburn’s departure, a district spokesperson said Blackburn did not submit a letter of resignation and that she was not present at the executive session last Friday. Neither the district or the School Board have provided further details as to what prompted her exit from the district’s top post.