Sumter board will "take step backwards" from vote to reopen Mayewood

Canty: Future action will be consistent with FOIA


After the legality of a recent vote to reopen a school was raised, Sumter School District’s Board of Trustees will readdress the matter at an upcoming meeting, according to the board’s leader.

Board Chairman the Rev. Ralph Canty spoke Wednesday about Monday’s questionable board vote to reverse a decision it made less than a year ago to close Mayewood Middle School.

That vote — which was 6-2 with one abstention — came directly after a motion from new Area 2 trustee Sherril Ray to rescind the school’s closure and operate the East Brewington Road campus as a middle school starting next year in August. But the motion was neither listed on the meeting agenda nor amended and added to the agenda before the vote.

On Tuesday, after reviewing agenda items from the meeting, Jay Bender, legal counsel for the South Carolina Press Association, said the board’s vote was illegal.

“Unless there was a vote to amend the public agenda to consider reopening the school, then taking action on it without having it on the agenda is impermissible,” Bender said. “If you don’t have it on the agenda, you can’t take action on it.”

Canty said the board will address the issue soon.

“We will take a step backwards from the action the other night to ensure that we are consistent with the FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] guidelines,” Canty said, “and with anything else that might be pertinent as it relates to that action.”

He said he expects it will be an agenda item for a regularly scheduled board meeting in the future. The board’s next scheduled meeting is Monday, Feb. 11.