Sumter school board takes no action on personnel matter in special-called meeting


There was no action taken by the Sumter School District Board of Trustees during a special called meeting Wednesday afternoon on an undisclosed personnel matter and to receive legal advice.

On Tuesday, the district’s board called for the meeting to have a discussion in executive session behind closed doors, according to the agenda.

After an hour-long executive session, the trustees returned to open session just after 5 p.m. but took no action.

The notion that Interim Superintendent Debbie Hamm intends to resign has been circulating among credible sources of The Sumter Item and on social media since Tuesday.

After the meeting, board Chairman the Rev. Ralph Canty confirmed that Hamm is still in her position and that there is no announcement to be made at this time.

“As of right now, Debbie Hamm is still the superintendent,” Canty said.

Hamm has served as the district’s interim leader for 18 months, dating to Aug. 1, 2017.

On Monday night, the school board voted to reopen Mayewood Middle School in a 6-2 vote with one abstention, a move that would rescind last year's vote to close it.

In April 2018, the board, a group that consisted of five different trustees before the November midterm election changed a majority of the nine members, voted 5-3 to close two low-enrollment schools in the county — Mayewood and F.J. DeLaine Elementary School in Wedgefield. Hamm and the board majority said at the time the closings were a way to save money as the district emerged from a financial crisis stemming from $6.2 million in overspending that was revealed in December 2016.

For this school year, students from those two schools have moved to nearby schools with expanded magnet programs.

Canty said the media would be informed if the board has another special called meeting on the personnel matter before its regularly scheduled February board meeting, set for Feb. 11, as is required by governing bodies to announce public meetings according to law.

Hamm did not attend Wednesday's meeting. Canty said he was surprised by that fact but that he did not know where she was.