School board seeks legal opinion of providing counsel to indicted employee

  • Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fallout from the indictment of a Berkeley County School District employee bled into Tuesday's regular meeting of the school board, held at an offsite location at Berkeley Middle School. The board voted 6-0, with two members absent, to seek the opinion of a former judge to determine whether or not the district will provide counsel for Communications Director Amy Kovach. Chairman Kent Murray and member Sheldon Etheridge were absent from Tuesday's meeting. Prior to the vote, two district employees addressed the board urging support for Kovach. Hanahan High School Principal Ric Raycroft, and 2012 district Teacher of the Year and Cane Bay High School teacher Michael Petry spoke. (See their statements in video below). “Amy Kovach has been unfairly targeted by people,” Raycroft said. “She does good and she does right, and she does so for other people's children. She is a servant, she is a leader, and she deserves better.” Raycroft asked the board to reinstate Kovach to “eliminate distractions.” Kovach was placed on administrative leave with pay after state law enforcement indicted her in regards to her involvement in the district's “Yes for Schools” campaign to garner support for a $198 million bond referendum, a referendum that voters passed in 2012. South Carolina Attorney General's Office spokesman Mark Powell said earlier this month that Kovach faces a possible $5,000 fine or one year in prison if she is convicted. During Tuesday's board meeting, the board convened in executive session to discuss the legal matter concerning Kovach. Once returning to open session, the board voted on seeking the opinion of former Circuit Court judge Vic Rawl. Board member Shannon Lee delivered a written statement after the vote. “By law, the district has an obligation to provide legal representation to its employees, when they are acting in good faith in the course of their employment. Our board met today to discuss whether, in light of the misdemeanor charge recently filed last week, the district has a continuing statutory obligation to provide legal representation to Ms. Kovach. “This is a very complex and serious issue. We want to be certain that it is resolved responsibly, authoritatively, and fairly. And so the board has authorized its chairman to engage former Circuit Court Judge Vic Rawl to conduct a hearing on this issue. His charge will be to determine whether the facts at this point, based on the information available to the board, suggest that Ms. Kovach was indeed acting in good faith and in the course of her employment, and — if so — whether last week's indictment precludes the district from providing her with legal representation. “We expect to receive a report and recommendation to the board from Judge Rawl as soon as practical.” No further comment was issued from the board. 

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