Superintendent Chosen in Vote Split Along Racial Lines - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/01/05

Superintendent Chosen in Vote Split Along Racial Lines

Dr. Thomas B. Lockamy, Jr. Dr. Thomas B. Lockamy, Jr.

The Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education has selected a new superintendent, but not without controversy. Board members voted in Dr. Thomas Lockamy from Norfolk, Virginia. The vote was split six to three, and it was hard to ignore racial lines may have been drawn.

"I move that Mr. Thomas B. Lockamy, Jr., is the next Chatham County superintendent," said board member David Wegmann.

It's a motion that many would think would bring a sigh of relief. But when Dr. Lockamy was elected superintendent on a split vote, it divided the board along racial lines.

"I thought one of the other candidates would have been better for Chatham County," member Ellis Frazier.

"I was impressed with Dr. Lockamy from the get-go," said Wegmann.

The six white board members voted for Dr. Lockamy. The three black board members voted for Dr. Donnie Evans. While the vote did fall down racial lines, all nine board members say they voted for who they thought was the best,  but not all who witnessed the vote agreed with the choice.

"We are concerned," said concerned citizen Chester Dunham. "About 70 percent or more of African American kids in school system, and we think they did us wrong."

"As long as your going to have a board made up the way we are made up, there will always be some type of disparity at racial when it comes to vote," said Wegmann.

In the end, all nine school board members unanimously voted to sign Dr. Lockamy to a three-year contract. Bottom line, they say racial lines are part of life and they will cope and work together.

"We are going to work with him best we can for children in Chatham," said Frazier.

The board still has to vote on Dr. Lockamy's start date and salary. This decision also has a big impact on SACS probation. The good news is that they have a superintendent in place, the bad news is SACS advised the board to have at least an eight-to-one or seven-to-two vote to show solidarity.

SACS will be back in September to review the district's standing.

For not familiar with Dr. Lockamy's qualifications, here are a few of them.

*He's been serving as the associate superintendent for the Norfolk public schools in 1997
*From '83 to '85, he was a curriculum and instruction researcher and teacher in New Bern, North Carolina
*Dr. Lockamy holds a bachelors of science in elementary education, a masters in education administration and an advanced masters in education specialist, all from East Carolina University
*He also holds a doctor of education leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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