School district threatens to sue Hanahan

  • Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Berkeley County School District attorney has sent a letter to the City of Hanahan threatening legal action.

BCSD appears to be looking at ways to appeal a Hanahan City Council vote regarding the proposed site of a new elementary school.

City council voted unanimously against a BCSD rezoning request at its Dec. 10 meeting. The district asked council to rezone property in the Bowen Village area of Tanner Plantation so a new school could be built there.

The attorney’s letter says the district is considering what legal steps to take in response to city council’s denial of the application to amend the Foster Creek planned development.

The letter also asks the city not to destroy or amend any documents, emails or computer activity logs regarding the application.

“They sent us a letter,” Hanahan City Administrator John Cribb said. “I don’t know what their intention is with the letter.

“In Hanahan we keep things very simple and out in the open. We don’t have the need to use lawyers a whole lot. They have things going where they have lawyers. So sometimes their responses may be more legalese.

“It is our intention to move forward and get the community excited. Regardless of the letter, we’re excited we’re going to get a new school and figure out where that’s going to be.”

Cribb said the city and school district have always had a good relationship. Hanahan High School couldn’t have several of its programs without using some of the city’s facilities, Cribb said.

“I hate it when this kind of rhetoric gets out because it looks like we’re at odds

We do tons of stuff with the schools and we benefit by having great schools.

“In a small community it is possible for a city to collaborate with the schools.”

On Monday BCSD Public Information Officer Susan Haire provided the following statement:

“We will pursue every option available to relieve overcrowding at Hanahan Elementary School and Goose Creek Primary School, both of which have student populations in excess of 1,000 students.

“Based on the advice of legal counsel, the district wishes to preserve our ability to explore the zoning application appeal process as outlined by the City of Hanahan zoning code and the zoning codes of the State of South Carolina.”

“The letter the city received yesterday was very unfortunate, without merit, and does not reflect the spirit of cooperation that took place throughout the process,” Hanahan Mayor Minnie Newman-Caldwell said in response. “The school district’s application for rezoning was properly and exhaustively handled by both the planning commission and city council.

“In the end, we did our best to work with the district but a site was selected by the district without input from the residents or city and ultimately could not overcome the concerns associated with the location. We are envious of the process on Daniel Island as citizens are being engaged and allowed in the decision making process vs. being informed of decisions as we have been in Hanahan.”

“As the mayor, I speak for city council when I say we have always and will continue to support our schools and children. It is time for the entire BCSD board to get involved and properly engage the Hanahan community so we can move quickly on addressing our need to ease overcrowding in our schools and most importantly to create an opportunity where all children in Hanahan will be permitted to attend a school in the City of Hanahan as promised with the passing of the bond referendum.

“Enough time and money has been spent on attorneys and it is time we put that money in the classrooms for the benefit of the teachers and children.

“I want our residents to know that though we are disappointed with this measure taken by BCSD, it will not have an affect on how we move forward and the promises we have made to the community to find the best and fastest possible solution for our educational needs in Hanahan.”

“The district has and will continue to seek input on all land options presented for consideration as a school site,” Haire wrote in an email. “An appeal of the zoning application would allow the district to maintain an open and concurrent dialogue with city council and local developers.

“Our goal is to open a new elementary school as quickly as possible to provide safe, academically excellent opportunities to every Hanahan student.”

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