Public should demand more scrutiny of school district


Beaufort County School District teacher Amanda Patel filed a class-action, Breach of Contract lawsuit against her employer, the Beaufort County School District, on December 8, 2021. The complaint can be found on the Beaufort County Public Index. 

Essentially, the complaint asserts that the BCSD has shortchanged teachers the hourly rate promised them per their contract and district regulations for dual modality (teaching both in-person and virtual simultaneously). The Complaint also alleges that the Board of Education violated its adopted Salary and Stipend Schedule by awarding certified staff a one-time $1,000 bonus to teachers in lieu of the hourly rate due them per the Schedule. 

The $1,000 one-time bonus was proposed and voted on by the board in response to Gov. McMaster’s “Dual Modality Law.” The “Dual Modality Law” provides in part: In the event that a school district determines it necessary for a teacher to deliver dual modality instruction, the school district must provide additional compensation to the teacher. 

This is not an inconsequential lawsuit. On the contrary, any teacher compensation dispute in the midst of a widespread teacher shortage is anything but. So why hasn’t this been reported in local news outlets? 

I’ll get to that in a minute. 

Taking on Goliath, aka the BCSD, is an extraordinary risk for an established, well-regarded teacher like Ms. Patel. After all, retaliation is not unheard of in our district’s annals for those who’ve ventured down this perilous path. 

But what underscores Ms. Patel’s extraordinary bravery is that she not only filed the suit on behalf of herself, but for all others in the district “similarly situated.” It’s rare to find an individual willing to put their livelihood on the line for the greater good. 

Reporters regularly examine the Public Index for case developments. Some news outlets have even been alerted to this particular case. The lack of news coverage on this relevant lawsuit is alarming, and every BCSD teacher should be made aware that one of their colleagues is fighting for them. 

It gets even more perplexing. 

Though the complaint was filed on December 8, the Board of Education was not informed of the suit at their only December full board meeting according to the posted agenda and discussion. 

The public needs to demand more from news reporters covering the Beaufort County School District. The school district oversees the largest budget of all our governmental bodies and municipalities, so let’s give it the scrutiny it rightly deserves. 

JoAnn Orischak served as the District 11 Representative to the Beaufort County Board of Education from 2012-2020. She resides on Hilton Head Island and can be reached at JoAnnOrischak. TheIslandNews@gmail.com. 

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