SC schools chief appoints protege to John de la Howe post

Posted by CASSIE COPE on July 8, 2014 

Meka Childs, candidate for State Superintendent of Education, greets voters at the Springville 1 precinct at Lake Murray Elementary in Chapin Tuesday morning.

TIM DOMINICK — tdominick@thestate.com Buy Photo

State schools Superintendent Mick Zais has appointed his former deputy, who lost a bid to become Zais’ successor, as chief operating officer of the John de la Howe School for at-risk children.

The state Board of Education must confirm Meka Childs, who came in sixth in the eight-candidate Republican primary for superintendent after she was endorsed by Zais. The board is set to take up Childs’ appointment Wednesday.

The position of chief operating officer at the school was created through an amendment in the state’s $7 billion general fund budget as part of a plan to get the troubled McCormick school back on track. The amendment says the superintendent of education appoints the school’s chief operating officer, subject to confirmation by the state Board of Education.

In January, the S.C. inspector general issued a report recommending the school lower its costs and improve its management, especially in addressing low academic scores by students.

The school’s board disagreed with some of those findings, including the inspector general’s criticism of trustees for failing to provide enough oversight and the school’s costs. However, many of the school’s leaders have left during recent months.

At one point, lawmakers had proposed the Department of Juvenile Justice take over the residential school, which educates troubled youths. But that proposal was shelved.

Childs held two deputy superintendent positions under Zais. Most recently, she helped lead school effectiveness efforts, a $116,700-a- year job.

Her role at John de la Howe will be to provide on-site program and administrative assistance, and provide regular updates to the school’s trustees.

The position will be paid $8,000 a month for about four months, according to Dino Teppara, spokesperson for the Department of Education.

Barbara Devinney, chair of the John de la Howe board, said the school’s trustees look forward to meeting Childs. “We’re looking forward to working with whoever the state Board of Education appoints.”

Devinney said the school’s board recently selected Danny Webb as agency head and president. The board also appointed James Franklin as the consulting superintendent for the school.

Childs said Monday she would discuss what her role would be at the school after Wednesday’s state Board of Education meeting.

Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.

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