Lex-Rich 5 board member’s residency questioned

tflach@thestate.comJanuary 15, 2013 

Residency questions are threatening to force Kim Murphy off the Lexington-Richland 5 school board.

Murphy mistakenly has been thought to live on the Richland County side of the line. But new information suggests she does not, board chairman Robert Gantt said during Monday’s school board meeting.

An analysis sent to the board by state demographers suggests that officials in both counties had misplaced the border that cuts through the site where Murphy’s home is located.

Their study concludes that Murphy is just inside Lexington County and therefore ineligible to remain on the board as a representative for the Richland side. Murphy said she’s always been told by officials in both counties that she is narrowly inside Richland County. But the state study said that judgment is wrong.

Gantt said he asked that the question be looked at after “sources which I deem reliable” raised the question. He suggested Murphy resign after evaluating the study or ask an arbitor to review the situation.

Murphy, often at odds with the other six board members, said she is stunned by the attempt to oust her.

“I’m going to have to get to the bottom of it pretty quickly,” she said. “I will do some investigating to see if what is presented is accurate.”

Murphy has been a polarizing member of the board since being elected to it in late 2010. To her supporters, she is a tireless crusader against waste and overtaxation. To her critics, she is a complainer who frequently tries to derail improvements in school facilities.

No other board members spoke on the matter Monday, after Gantt urged them to stay quiet until the matter is resolved.

The school board is composed of three from Richland County and four from Lexington County.

No other board members’ residencies were checked as part of the study.

Murphy is free to run for the board in Lexington County, should she step down due to the finding, Gantt said.

Should she give up her post, it was not clear late Monday how Murphy could be replaced.

Murphy isn’t sure how long it will take her to decide whether she will step down or challenge the findings. Although she took part in discussions, she abstained from voting on matters before the board Monday.

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