Which Candidate is Best Qualified to Lead Horry County School Board?

By Paul Gable

The race for the Republican nomination for Horry County School Board Chairman has contrasts among the candidates that should be looked at.

School boards are under attack nationwide in a concerted effort by the Club for Growth to change the makeup of school boards throughout the country for its own goals. Unfortunately, that effort has little to do with what is best for students.

Current school board member David Cox brings 14 years serving on the board, eight years as the member for District 9 and six as the current member for District 4. Cox has the overwhelming support of current board members in his run for chairman. Cox has the longest current continuous service on the school board.

Current school board member for District 6, Helen Smith, returned to the board in 2018 after a 16-year hiatus. Smith previously served as District 6 member from 1982-1996 and as board chairman from 1996-2002. Needless to say, much has changed in Horry County schools since she ended her term as chairman 20 years ago.

The third candidate for school board chairman, Darrell Ricketts, brings the most interesting curriculum vitae to the race.

Ricketts is retiring as a teacher at Socastee High School this year. However, his tenure in Horry County Schools is checkered.

Ricketts was once the principal at Aynor High School until he was caught changing the grades of over 20 students in order to make school performance look better. When that issue came to light, Ricketts was fired from his principal position and his principal certification by the S. C. Department of Education was terminated. The state left his teacher certification in place allowing him to serve as an agricultural education teacher at Socastee High School.

The question must be asked, is someone who was willing to break the rules in order to make school performance look better, the right person to chair the policy making board for Horry County Schools?

The school board constantly faces hurdles because of regulations imposed on local boards by the state and federal education departments. Decisions by the local board are constantly influenced by what it would like to do versus what it must do to meet state and federal regulations.

It would seem the best qualified person to chair the board making those decisions is the one with the most current experience in how they are made.

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